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Dedicated to The Librarians I Love

Jamie Taylor

As a kid, while other girls were playing Hospital and House and School, I was playing Library. I would stamp your book and say, with great enthusiasm to the make-believe child in front of me, “I think you are going to love this. Let me know exactly what you think when you return it. Stamp stamp. Next?”

Books have saved me during covid and my librarians have become my superheroes. All I have to do is call in and leave a message with the books I want and Irene or Ellen or Barbara email me back with the list of what will be waiting for me.

Once, on a day the library wasn’t even open, I pulled into the parking lot, saw lights and in desperation called on the phone. In the middle of my begging message; “If anyone’s in there, Please I need every book by Tana French.” And lo and behold, Ebba, wearing a mask and spraying the bag as she approached the car, handed me five entire books. Walked them out to me! On the day the library was closed thank you very much.!!!

I’m sure those early experiences with those loving guides at my local library had everything to do with my passion for words and helped establish my reading habit.

And once you've been bitten all you want is to pass that love along to your kids. I remember when my son Josh was about 15, working at Squibnocket, sitting under one of those hot little makeshift huts, I brought him Toni Morrison’s Sula which he devoured.

Books are the go- to gift I buy for any occasion for any one who is in need.

I got myself invited into a book club that for the last six years has been a treasure. I feel as if I'm taking a graduate class in literature at Harvard. They are all smart and articulate and they always finish the book whether they like it or not. I’m not saying I’m dumb or that when the print is too small or the pages are too thin or the book is too thick I dont always plow through. I’m just saying sometimes the syllabus (yes there’s a syllabus) isn’t that easy for me.

When we were meeting in each other’s homes before zooming, there would always be a dessert table. So while Susie was saying something intelligent and Jane was adding to it and Rachel was expounding and Anne was edifying, I was the one saying, ooh this cake is really good.

One time at the end of a session, Geraldine (yes that Geraldine) . (Yes I'm in a book club with a Pulitzer prize winner!) mentioned that she was on her way to Australia to be on a panel with the guy who had written the book we had just finished. I had loved that book so much and tried to find copies. Our two book stores couldn't order it and Amazon said it was unavailable. Geraldine suggested I try Amazon UK. The books came but arrived with a problem. They were in French. I knew it would be too complicated to try to return them. So I gave one away to someone who is fluent and kept the other one, in case I learn French.

This late fall I had my first bout with anxiety. My therapist said it was probably underlying fear of the pandemic. I didn’t buy it. I missed two nights of sleep. And the other five nights were fitful, I took cbd oil. It didn’t work. I took melatonin. It didn’t work. I took an anti anxiety pill.I t didn’t work.

I decided instead of tv watching I’d read before sleep. And surprise surprise it worked. Books as medicine. Laughing out loud. Crying out loud. Lying down fully engaged and feeling for someone else's life, it was just what the doctor hadn’t ordered.

So this is my champagne (without the champagne) toast to librarians in Edgartown, in West Tisbury, in Oak Bluffs in Aquinnah and of course, my sweethearts in Chilmark. The only thing I have to offer is words: Thank you! Thank you Thank you!

Nancy Aronie is a writer who lives in Chilmark. https://chilmarkwritingworkshop.com/

Nancy S. Aronie