Valley Voices

Jeannie Liao: Best things in life are at the library

There are very few things in life that are free. But one resource that has been free to each and every one of us, for over 100 years, is a library card to the Fresno County Public Library and County Libraries throughout the Central Valley.

This library card opens you up to a world of books, movies, newspapers in different languages, magazines, study rooms, computers, and numerous events including children’s and adult programs.

My memories of the library originate over 40 years ago at the Leo Politi branch, where my parents would take my siblings and me. Going to the library was a trip that I always looked forward to as a child; being surrounded by books was both fun and interesting.

There was nothing extravagant about the library, it was simple yet intellectually adventurous, since I never knew where I would be going when I opened up a book. This is the feeling we want for every child and every person when they experience reading.

Reading should be an adventure; an exploration of words, images, ideas, and imagination. As a mother of five, trips to the library were one of the few places that we could all go where I knew I could keep everyone somewhat entertained, engaged and most importantly, contained. It was not like a Disneyland trip where there’s an enormous expense, painstaking lines, and emotional energy exerted to survive the day.

But it was a day that made memories; ones that were quiet, introspective, inquisitive, and relaxing.

When people think of free, there is a misconception that there is no value to it. With libraries there is infinite worth. The value can only be measured by its impact over time. In fact, some experiences which cost an insurmountable amount of money hold very little value and create minimal long term significance.

On the other hand, something as simple as visits to the library may be the game changer in the life of a child. As a child, I didn’t realize that when my parents took me to the library that I would continue to take my children to the very same library. And beyond that, you know there is impact when your young adult children obtain their own library cards, on their own, without parental coercion.

Clearly, the more our children of the Central Valley are exposed to their own local, public library will they appreciate its value; their visits and relationships with books and reading will blossom and carry on into adulthood and throughout generations to come.

Here are a few facts about our Fresno County Library that are thought provoking.

All too often as parents, our children ask us for help: May I have some money? Can you bring me food? Can you take me to my friend’s house? Recently, my son, Kyler, asked me to return his library books and check out another one for him. I smiled and said I would be happy to do that. I smiled because I knew that not only do I get to reminisce and remember my childhood days with my family, but my son was creating his own memories and experiences with books, reading, and our Fresno County Public Library.

True joy is when we, as parents, have the feeling that there is good in the simple things we have done. Taking children to the library is a no-brainer. It is free, open and accessible to all, and it enriches lives.