The library is reducing its hours! A time for fond memories, and panic.

This is the library, as seen from Adams Park.

And so it comes to pass that my hometown library has decided to close every Friday due to budget cuts. The Wheaton Public Library has long been closed on summer Sundays, which means that all told it will now be closed about 65 days a year. Those summer Sunday closings felt tortuous to me as a girl old enough to walk alone to the library alone but not old (or savvy, industrious, or rich) enough to do much else.

I got two important things from the Wheaton Public Library.

First, obviously, books. “The Witch of Blackbird Pond” and “Deenie” and, over and over, all of the Anastasia Krupnik books. Junior biographies of Judy Garland and Corrie Ten Boom and Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Later I ventured into the grown-up aisles for John Irving and Anne Tyler, and then onward and upward from there. So, that was good.

And the library also helped me figure out to be a grownup, which I think is probably also quite typical. When my first sex-ed class in 5th grade left me with questions*, I snuck books that were meant to help parents to explain sex to their children into a stall in the downstairs bathroom and pored over them. A few years later I would hang out in the magazine section and read back copies of YM, Sassy, Mademoiselle, Seventeen, and Teen in hopes of figuring other things out: how to do my hair, how to apply make-up, how to kiss. (Confidential to pre-teen Ruth: Don’t worry about that last skill, you won’t need it for yeeeeears.) (Confidential to teen Ruth: PUT DOWN THE SUN-IN.)

So the Wheaton Public Library taught me to read and helped teach me how to be a grownup, and this is the place where I should lament its dwindling resources. Which, sure, I lament! But  the fact is that now I almost always buy my books instead of borrowing them and therefore have no real right to say anything about this particular library’s evolution – cough cough, massive recent expansion — let alone the evolution of The Library. Not to mention the fact that I haven’t lived in Wheaton for almost eight years now.

Anyway, I have much bigger problems: The grammar school I attended for 9 years is moving to a completely new building … in WINFIELD. I mean, I took it in stride when Front Street Cocina moved to Hale Street, when Gary Wheaton Bank changed its name to First Chicago, and when Wheaton Bible Church moved to West Chicago, but Wheaton Christian Grammar School moving to Winfield is just too much! What’s next, Wheaton Bowl heading to Schaumberg?! Am I right? Is anyone still reading this? Hello?

* this is when I actually learned about sex. Fifth grade. It’s not that it clarified a few details for me – rather, I had had no idea that anything LIKE sex existed in the world until age 10. Is it possible for a kid to be that clueless anymore?

3 responses to “The library is reducing its hours! A time for fond memories, and panic.

  1. I hadn’t heard that WPL was closing on Fridays- I was abruptly introduced to their reduced Friday hours when I strolled in at 5:45 pm only to hear the library would be closing in 15 minutes. I madly dashed to my favorite sections and grabbed a few books so I could get my reading fix. I love buying books but I’m not rich enough to support my habit. Wheaton institutions moving out of Wheaton is a strange phenomenon- I think they all need to embrace their new town (or street, as it were) or else stay put.

    Also, I so do not remember you sneaking sex ed books!

  2. Hello! I found you via Andrew Sullivan and then realized I’d read that piece on Christian YA on Slate and just had to say, *Corrie Ten Boom.* Oh my goodness! You’re the first fellow New Yorker I’ve encountered who knows that name. I’m writing a piece on her (or trying to, anyway). Yay evangelical upbringings.

  3. Megan, yes! I think I actually read “The Hiding Place” in school at one point, and we definitely watched the movie in class. I’m surprised at how little known she is outside evangelical circles. I’d love to check out your piece when it’s ready!

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