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A Love Letter to My Former Library

Ashley Holstrom

Staff Writer

Ashley Holstrom helps make books at Sourcebooks. She lives near Chicago with her cat named after Hemingway and her bookshelves organized by color. Newsletter: Crooked Reads. Twitter: @alholstrom.

Dear Forest Park Public Library,

I know it’s silly to write a love letter to my library, but you know how it goes. Love makes one do silly things. You are a building of shelves filled with these stories.

You were my first library of choice. As in, I chose the town I lived in and I chose which library within walking distance to make my own. You are just so charming.

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Here's my fuzzy new library card.

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The first time I visited you was in my first week after moving out on my own (okay, not TOTALLY alone—I had a roommate). I walked to you, a list of books to check out in hand, and marched up to the desk to get a library card, like the big dweeb I am. I was denied, because apparently you require proof of residency to library patrons. OKAY! So I walked back home empty-handed and came back a few days later with the appropriate documentation.

And then our relationship really began.

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You have tolerated three years of a wild hold list and only a few fines. My very first (and definitely not the last) library fine! What a milestone!

You make everyone feel welcome. You open your arms to everyone, from the medical students practicing strange dialogues to the children hoping to pet Shelly the Turtle to the people whose only opportunity to file their taxes is through the library. You’re there to help and to encourage.

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A message from my library.

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I attended a lecture hosted by Laura Browning, a journalist at the AV Club, in March of 2017 about news literacy. I was the youngest person there, and I loved it so much! Everyone was there to learn and better themselves in the time of ~fake news~ and we all came away feeling good.

And you put up a little free pantry in front of the library, on the busy street that runs through town. What a beautiful sight.

You are constantly doing events and activities for the community. Art projects. Gardening projects. Educational forums. Everything under the sun.

Really, when I think of community, I think of you.

We, do. We do love Forest Park (mostly the library). Thanks for letting me read all the books under your roof.