It is funny how the sight and the uniquely blended musty, dusty and ocean breezy smell of old books can send one’s thoughts careening down a timeless journey where the past steps into the present.
Few decades ago we didn’t have as many screen related activities or kids camps vying for our time, as we do now and summer vacations offered an opportunity to do what we pleased…most of the time.
Back then it was probably kind of common for kids to experiment with running a library or for that matter a local detective service to track missing pets…the latter of course was inspired by Enid Blyton books. I did both along with a bunch of like-minded friends, while in middle-school. I still have old books stamped with the RR library logo. Before you guess further RR stood for Reading Riders since we delivered books in our neighborhood on our Hero or Atlas brand bicycles. Kids did drop-in to browse and borrow too. It was a summer time initiative that we carried on for two years, about three months each time, before stopping once the middle-school work and other fun activities got in the way. Right from cataloging, racing on our bicycles with backpacks laden with books, manning the drawing room turned library, recommending books, to buying more books, bubblegum and icecream from the neat profits we made, the summers were filled to the brim with endless fun and great memories. It was not all smooth sailing though and a few random challenges did rise in the form late returns, a kid wanting to buy the book he had borrowed or a kid actually enrolling in the library without his or her parent’s permission. But they were easily resolved even as the number of members boomed. One of the secrets to the unprecedented success was that our library boasted a large collection of comics too, apart from the concept of books on wheels. 🙂
“A sense of euphoria rushing through our veins
We raced down the streets
On our sleek and shiny bicycles
Carrying worlds within words
Inside books neatly stacked in backpacks
Stopping at gates sporting special cardboard placards
Displaying our membership logo
Ringing our bicycle bells to announce
We are here to deliver tales from all over
Imaginations they are sure to capture
So step out and rent a book or two
And return the ones you borrowed, intact and true!”
While I see book donation drives and second hand book pop-up sales, assisted by adults, I wonder if this trend of running a library during vacation time continues with children today?
If any kindred spirits here who had a similar experience of running a library as a kid do share…
Here’s a sneak peek of some those comic books from the summer library that continues to linger in my memory.