Friday, August 22, 2008


Whether you usually read off of your own book pile or from the library shelves NOW, chances are you started off with trips to the library. (There’s no way my parents could otherwise have kept up with my book habit when I was 10.) So … What is your earliest memory of a library? Who took you? Do you have you any funny/odd memories of the library?

Haven't done a Booking Through Thursday for a while, so I thought I try.

Let's see now: my earliest memory of the library would be the weekly Saturday trips to the Queenstown Community Library. My mother would be the one to bring us - she was an avid reader when she was younger. My dad was not much of a reader, unless you count technical manuals and travel guides.

My mother was a fan of the wuxia novels, and occasionally she would pick up some titles by Qiong Yao. There were pretty of other authors, but my mother read in Chinese exclusively.

If I recall correctly, I had my first library card when I was 5 or 6 years old, where I would be allowed to pick up four titles. I started with the Miffy picture books, then the Mr Men series, and gradually I progressed to other fiction when I grew older. There were a lot of detective storybooks devoured, and a lot of stories and picture books on the various fables, legends and myths across the world. When I was younger, I read more Chinese books. After I started Primary School, I incorporated more English books into my reading.

The Queenstown library was one of the earliest national libraries, so it was old. I remember the Children's section was on the first floor, and the Adult section was on the second floor. So my mom would give me an hour or two in the Children's section, and she would come collect me after she was done on the second floor. (Now that I think of it, it was rather negligent parenting to leave the child unattended like this.)

Back then, the second floor was like the Promised Land. When I finally started borrowing from the Adult Section, it felt like I had really grown up.

I remember my mom had a denim tote bag that she would bring with us every Saturday to the library. She used that denim bag for the library books. There were patches in the interior of the denim bag, from my mother mending the holes. When we stopped going to the library that denim bag went missing. Maybe we threw it away. Or maybe it finally gave way from the weight of all those library books.

We don't go out much as a family when I was growing up. The weekly library trips were something to look forward to, as it meant being allowed to leave the house. Sometimes, if my mom allowed it, we would stop for desserts at the hawker centre at Queenstown, or we might even drop by the supermarket.

Looking back, I think my mom was unhappy, and the books were the only thing that kept her mind occupied. She stopped reading several years ago. I borrowed her library card once when I had exceeded my loan quota and I needed to check out more books for research.

She never asked for her library card back.

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