I remember growing up, the library was a quiet place. As soon as I would step through the front doors, I became very aware of the shoes I was wearing and how much noise they made as I walked up and down the aisles. There were low whispers and I can still hear the sound the book cart wheels made as the staff returned the books to the carts. There were no sounds of typing on keyboards, no tables filled with kids, glitter and glue, no food or drinks, no cell phone coversations or business meetings. Just quiet. As a child I remember the library feeling like a sacred space, similar to a church.
After I graduated High School, I attended the University of Kentucky School of Design where I had an assignment to analyze a public building that had both private spaces and public places. I chose a library, mainly because it was a building that was on my route home. Lazy, I know. It had been years since I stepped in a library other than my school library. I remember walking through the doors and feeling confused by the level of noise. It was so loud and I was quickly glancing around to see what the emergency was that was causing the chaos. But there was no emergency, just a Children's program going on. I took it all in that day as I sat and observed people using the space. I was competely intrigued at how much the library had changed over the years. There were kids singing and laughing, moms with coffee having conversations, business meetings in private rooms, people typing away on computers, music centers with headphones and tucked away in the corners were the quiet people contently reading their magazines or books. I wrote my paper with fascination on how the library had changed so much over the years.
Several years and 2 kids later, I decided to take a break from my career in Interior Design to stay at home with our children for a season. To say the days were long is an understatement. We were constantly on the hunt to find things to do, to see other human life. For the love, I needed to see other humans. I remembered the library. As we walked through the doors, it felt like the most magical place on earth. There were kids, activities, lounge furniture that invited us to stay for a while, other moms, computer stations, and my kids and I soaked it all in. We became frequent users of the library during those years, checking out books, attending programs, spending rainy days just hanging out in a space that felt welcoming and inviting. I met other moms and we formed playgroups and developed friendships that lasted throughout the years.
As my kids got older, they started using the school library and our visits to the public library became fewer and fewer until it had been about 6 years since I'd been in a library (I know it was about 6 years because I had a 6 year old unpaid fine at my local branch). Recently, I took a job at KPC and I stepped full throttle into the world of libraries again. This time, I stepped into the space as an Interior Designer. To understand what I was stepping into, I took the first few months of my new position touring libraries throughout Kentucky. What I found is that the library is a forever transforming space. There is still the same magical space for moms and young kids. Still the sounds of typing on keyboards, chatter, quiet corners. But now there are filled community rooms, teen areas that provide a safe space for them to hang out, Veteran programs, food banks, resource centers, reach out events, tutoring. There's so much happening in libraries, I can't even name it all. But here's what I can say about libraries - they are essential to the welfare and well being of our communities. They are the keepers of the past and of the future of each one of our towns. They transform, bend and reshape themselves with the growth of the people they serve. The Libary sits as the cornerstone of where we live.
Tami Dobbins, Sr. Account Executive and Interior Designer at KPC Architectural Products