As I have said before, I grew up on a farm outside of Tiskilwa. My sisters were several years older than me and because of that age difference, were not always available to be my playmates. We did some things together on the farm, but primarily, I was by myself. As I got old enough to read books, I was found frequently with one in my hand.
I became an avid reader. On our weekly trips to town to the grocery store and to check on my grandma, I would convince my mom that our trip needed to include a stop at the Tiskilwa Library. I would gather up my allotment of books to check out; there was a limit, and I believe the number was five. At that time, the checkout was done by hand, and everyone had a library card number that was used.
I read all of the Nancy Drew mystery books that were on the shelves of the library. I know that I read some of them more than once. I would look through the numbers recorded on the paper in the front of the books, and sometimes I would miss my number. I would take home a book that I had already read. That was OK. I would read the book again. I still have no problem reading books again — you know you can miss nuances of the story the first time.
As I got older, my reading expanded into many other areas. From Anna Karenina to the Carl Sandburg books on Abraham Lincoln to Shakespeare, I was pretty diverse. I enjoyed all of them and many others.
Most of this reading took place during the summer months. I grew up in the ‘50s and ‘60s without air conditioning; in fact I don’t even remember really having a fan in the house. My favorite reading spot on a hot summer day was under the big shade tree on a blanket in my front yard. That was the coolest spot I could find.
I spent a lot of hours in that front yard, but I was not really in the yard. I was off to some faraway place the book in front of me carried me off to. It was great! For a small town girl, I could be in New York, Russia, Germany or England with the blink of an eye.
Upon the death of my mother, my sisters and I decided to name the Tiskilwa Library as the recipient of any memorials that we received. Because of those memorials, I made a visit to this library to drop off some of the money. It was like walking back in time.
Many of you know the library in Tiskilwa is in the process of adding an addition that will be handicapped accessible and will allow that community to have some small meeting rooms to be used for tutoring, counseling or other activities. The youth and adults in Tiskilwa will be very fortunate to have this new facility to use and enjoy.
The main part of the library has gone through some changes over the years. The shelves of books are still in their same locations, but drop ceilings were added at some point, and those are being removed as part of the current project. According to the librarian that was there the day I visited, the original building is more than 100 years old, and it is being restored to its original state. I was also given a brief tour of the new facilities still under construction.
It is exciting to see a small town preserving and improving upon their local library. That library was so important to me as a child. It makes me very happy that the building is being updated and renewed.
This winter with its cold and snow, my reading hobby has been revitalized. Now I do a lot of my reading by downloading books to my iPad. I enjoy the convenience of having a new book in an instant, but it isn’t quite the same as browsing the stacks of the library, reading a few pages and choosing that special book for a new adventure. Nothing is quite the same as that.
Young or old, take a trip to your library; you’ll be glad you did. Congratulations to the residents of Tiskilwa on your library project. I plan to visit the old and new building as soon as the project is completed. I will make myself a new memory of a special place from my childhood.
Nita Wyatt of Wyanet can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.