Many of us library lovers were introduced to the wonder of books and libraries as youngsters. I don’t recall going to a storytime where I grew up in New Jersey. What I do remember is that feeling of excitement when I was picking out my new books. Another Curious George I hadn’t read! An alphabet animal book! Certainly there was a time when books were just about the pictures, the colors or about getting some quality time with Mom and Dad … but eventually, the words themselves took on more meaning.
I still remember my first encounter with “Casey at the Bat” though it must have been more than 30 years ago. It was part of a book that had all styles of writing in it from poems and stories to jokes, a something-for-everyone book. I borrowed it more than once, and it’s a book I wish I had bought. Perhaps the story of the Mudville Nine baseball team struck a cord for me because the ending surprised me. (I even named a cat Casey.)
Lots have changed in the intervening years, but not that feeling of excitement I can get from borrowing an armload of books from my local branch.
Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright,
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and little children shout;
But there is no joy in Mudville — mighty Casey has struck out.
Mary Mulrenan, Fairfax County Public Library
(Photo by Jason Cutshaw, Fort Drum Public Affairs.)