Milpitas Library is my family’s absolute favorite place in the community — well-organized, friendly staff, and great programs. What’s not to love? The first thought that occurred to me last March when I found out about lockdown was We’d better get to the library! The kids and I frantically gathered up nearly a hundred books (we have a library book-specific bookshelf to keep track of them all…that’s how much we frequent the place), and hightailed it down to the Milpitas Library, already talking strategy: who would go where and get which type of books and how many we would get to keep us entertained while we hunkered down at home. But to our horror, we saw the dreaded sandwich board informing us that the library was closed until further notice.
There’s nothing like holding a book in your hand — flipping through the pages, turning it over to read the summary, and feeling the excitement as you add it to your stack to take home. I don’t care what anyone says — virtual books are not the same. I can’t stand watching my kids staring at their computers after another day of online school. I need real life in the real world and I don’t want some person on the internet reading to the kids…I want to read with them! Or have them read with each other and point at the pictures and share ideas. Virtual anything these days is starting to give me a sick feeling. But, you do what you have to. My kids, of course, loved the extra screen time. I, on the other hand, after refusing to buy a Kindle, started reading my 700-page novel on my phone screen, which turned it into a 3,000-teeny-page novel, and had a hard time staying engaged.
A month or so later, we discovered we could start reserving books for pick-up. This drastically changed the way that we selected books. Gone were the days of browsing, meandering through aisles chock full of familiar favorites and budding authors with new and exciting stories. Now we had to remember which series we were enjoying before the shutdown (there had been so many!) and which books we had yet to read. I was impressed with the efficiency and staff through the whole process. I’ve always been amazed by the organization and efficiency of the library, but even more so now that the books were all ordered over computer and organized for pickup.
I never knew quite what to choose, so I stuck with a tried and true favorite author. Just as his books were feeling stale to me, a new, glorious option came to Milpitas: book bundles. The kids excitedly began expanding their horizons with graphic novel bundles, a genre they hadn’t known existed. And I started reading the “memoir bundles” and getting to know inspiring women I hadn’t previously known.
We devoured books. Every week, while returning full bags of them, we would choose new bundles, along with reservations of tried and true favorites.
Then, one beautiful day about four weeks ago, it happened: the lobby opened up. Now, we had small tables of books for every age group to choose from. Our visits became even more frequent: twice a week, with more worlds to explore.
On Monday, April 19th, the kids and I lugged 70 books back to the library, to receive the greatest surprise of our lives: It was fully open.The excitement in that building was palpable as my kids went crazy, exploring each aisle — eager learners with endless options once more. I watched smiling parents taking pictures and videos as children tore books off of shelves and marveled at all there was to see. My kids are already asking when we will go back. Maybe Milpitas Library will become a thrice-a-week ritual in our quiet schedule. Until then, I’ve got a stack of Garfields calling my name…