An exciting event takes place this month in my small town. It's the Chamber of Commerce's annual awards dinner. It's an opportunity for people in the community to nominate and honor those who serve our little town. From Man and Woman to Citizen and Business of the Year to Teacher, School Assistant and Farming Family of the Year, it's a big night in Olton, Texas.
This year, I have the privilege of announcing the Woman of the Year, Jocy Mandrell, who is the director of the Olton Library. The previous librarian Linda Roper, who retired after 33 years, called me to talk about Jocy and her accomplishments since she took over. Linda used words like "very deserving, sympathetic and amazing," to describe Jocy. "She has exceeded what we could have imagined." (I can't wait to honor her!)
As we visited, Linda gave me the back-story on the library. In a nutshell, the Olton Library was the result of a bad western with questionable content sold through the Book Mobile in the early 80s and a grassroots effort to open a permanent location in Olton.
As Linda reminisced, I began to think about my own memories made at our local library. As a child, my mom raised us to love books and enjoy reading. She didn't just read the words but brought the characters to life with her distinctive voice inflections. I still love hearing her read. It's something my kids enjoyed when they were younger and still cherish.
So, visiting the library and checking out books was something I have always encouraged in my children and our local library is a great resource. I have to admit when my kids were toddlers, my motives to attend story hour weren't always pure. Often, it was a great excuse to get out of the house, get a change in scenery and allow someone else the blessing of toddler time with my kids.
My favorite moments followed picking out books. I would sit crisscross on the floor with my kiddos in my lap and my arms wrapped around them as I held a book in front of us and read quietly in their ear. My son, with his hand on the page, studied each picture carefully, as not to miss even the smallest detail depicted on each page.
Our favorite books were the Mercy Watson series about the adventures of a porcine wonder, and "Too Many Toys," about a boy who struggles to depart with some of his toys, only to decide the box in which they were collected is the best toy of all.
While my kids are too grown for storytime, and sadly too big for my lap, I'm thankful for a bad western and a grassroots effort that led to a Main Street library that houses much more than books.