Printed from:

Welcome to Columbia Magazine  

Carol Perkins: The Library

During National Library Week, April 14-20, 2013, Carol Perkins had warm memories that the library had always been her favorite place to be, in her youth
The next earlier Carol Perkins column: Carol Perkins: Kentucky politics. Mitch v. Ashley

By Carol Perkins

As I walked by our library this week, I noticed a sign out front announcing this to be National Library Week. Let's celebrate by checking out a stack of books, reading them, and returning them on time! If you haven't used your library card in a long time, dig it out of your purse or wallet and go to your nearest library.

When I was young, our school library was one of my favorite places to be. We had "library" as part of our curriculum and the librarian taught us the Dewey Decimal System and how to take that information and find the book we wanted. There is power in being able to find your own book without having to ask for help.

Always a place to be quiet, the library was one of the few places where my friends and I didn't talk but were afraid of bursting into giggles because of the tension this quiet room created. We were scared not to be quiet, however, because the librarian never smiled and often raised her eyebrow without lifting her head as a signal she had her eye on us. Even removing a book could make enough noise for us to be "shished" in the library.

School libraries were never overstocked. Most of the editions had been around since the year the school opened. When the librarian stamped the new books with the glossy covers, my friends and I wanted to read those rather than the musty smelling ones on the shelves. I still like new books. Now I like new books with large print.

Biographies were favorite reading material

For some reason, I never read type of books that my friends did. They always chose fiction while I went straight to the biographies. My first memory of a biography was that of Ben Franklin. There are two reasons for this memory. The first reason was because I submerged myself into this book in the sixth grade because I had to write a book report about it. The second reason I remember it so well is because I waited until the night before it was due to finish the book and start the report. This was during the days of writing on paper. Not only did I have to write the report, I also had to make a construction paper cover.

Not one to summarize well (I think all details are important), I ended up telling the entire story, which took pages and pages into the wee morning hours.

Parents didn't do homework back then

I remember exactly where I was sitting in my house when I admitted to my mother than I had this report due and couldn't go to bed until it was finished. She didn't say a word, but left me to my task and went to bed. Parents did not do their children's homework back then; or at least mine didn't.

With the report finally finished, I began the cover. Not an artist, I knew I was in trouble with the cover. However, I traced his face to a piece of paper, cut out it out, and pasted it on my gray/blue construction paper. Then I wrote "Ben Franklin" across the top with crayons (long before markers).

Prettiest book jackets attracted the most attention

After the reports were graded, true to form the teacher thumbtacked each book over the bulletin board, each one dangling in hopes of other children reaching up and taking one to read. Naturally, the prettiest book jackets would attract the most attention (they still do) and mine was sure not the prettiest. Ben dangled above that board for months and every time I looked at it, I thought of that horrible night I barely could stay awake to finish a project I should have done weeks earlier.

I never really put the pieces together until now as to why I have always had a special interest with anything about Ben Franklin. I taught units on him and his writings; visited his home and toured his print shop. It was that book report that started it all!

By the way, did you know that Ben Franklin created the first circulating library in America? - Carol Perkins

This story was posted on 2013-04-21 09:10:34
Printable: this page is now automatically formatted for printing.
Have comments or corrections for this story? Use our contact form and let us know.


Quick Links to Popular Features

Looking for a story or picture?
Try our Photo Archive or our Stories Archive for all the information that's appeared on


Contact us: Columbia Magazine and are published by D'Zine, Ltd., PO Box 906, Columbia, KY 42728.
Phone: 270.403.0017

Please use our contact page, or send questions about technical issues with this site to All logos and trademarks used on this site are property of their respective owners. All comments remain the property and responsibility of their posters, all articles and photos remain the property of their creators, and all the rest is copyright 1995-Present by Columbia! Magazine and D'Zine, Ltd. Privacy policy: use of this site requires no sharing of information. Voluntarily shared information may be published and made available to the public on this site and/or stored electronically. Anonymous submissions will be subject to additional verification. Cookies are not required to use our site. However, if you have cookies enabled in your web browser, some of our advertisers may use cookies for interest-based advertising across multiple domains. For more information about third-party advertising, visit the NAI web privacy site.