An Ode to Libraries

An Ode to Libraries

by Rosie Francis

Growing up the very first public library that I used was the one in my neighborhood. The library was tiny, with just a few shelves of books, a couple of tables where magazines were displayed, and some tables with chairs for readers. When the idea to set up a library was first proposed, several families and individuals donated books to get it started. Adults in the community took turns to volunteer and serve as the “librarian”. This meant one week it could be a retired judge who checked books out, and another week it could be a stay-at-home parent.

My siblings and I loved this library, and we read and reread the very limited number of books that were available. Even now when we gather, we talk about this little library that my parents and their friends ran, and the profound influence it has had on our lives.

Bringing up my own children, the Ames Public Library was this place for us. We came to check out books, attend programs, meet with friends, and vote, (the very first election that our oldest child voted in was at the library). It functioned as the Third Place for us. The Third Place is a term coined by sociologist Ray Oldenburg, and refers to informal gathering spaces where people can meet and use with little or no financial barrier. We enjoyed visiting the old library, and continue to be delighted with the remolded space.

In my time here at the Ames Public Library, I have witnessed babies take their first steps, teens grow up and graduate and then come back to tell us about all their world adventures, and met parents who came to the library as children now have come back to visit bringing their own children.

Libraries are magical spaces where you can lose yourself to find what you need. They are places that can and do change lives. I invite you to visit the Ames Public Library and check out the many ways we can help you connect to a world of ideas. Visit our website at and look for the calendar of events, our monthly library newsletter Page One is available both digitally and as printed copies. This is your space, a place to read old familiar stories and meet new ones, a place to create community and bond, and a place where access to knowledge is free. We look forward to seeing you here.