Enoch Pratt Free Library Blog: Where Did My Journey In The Library Begin
My trip to the library started with my grandfather. When we were kids, he took us to the North Point branch of the Baltimore County Public Library every week. I remember the smell of the library on Saturday mornings, the long yellow-backed row of Nancy Drew books I browsed when I was nine, as well as Encyclopedia Brown, Ramona Quimby and , as I was heading into my pre-teens, SE Hinton, Lois Duncan, and JRR Tolkien. My family was working class, I was fortunate enough to have a week’s vacation in Ocean City every year, but as a kid I never traveled much outside of Eastern Baltimore County except in books – in Hong Kong and Japan with Nancy Drew, in Middle Terre with Tolkien, in Terabithia with CS Lewis and Katherine Paterson.
But my trip didn’t just include books⎯ I remember looking at REM’s Account and Fables of Reconstruction as well as the records of Ella Fitzgerald as a teenager, music I had never heard on the radio in the small town on the east coast where my family moved. It also provided me with the resources I needed for a difficult time in my life. When I graduated from college and moved to Baltimore City, the first thing I did was get a library card from the central branch of the Enoch Pratt Library. It was the early 90s, I hadn’t gone out yet, and I remember picking up The price of salt, The second sex, and an LGBT manual at a library sale. These were my first “queer” books, my first exploration of identity before the Internet, and in the years that followed, Enoch Pratt became my go-to place to digest the important works of lesbian and gay authors. This is also where I started my career as a professional writer, when I attended my first CityLit Festival in 2006.
Of course, the highlight of my trip to the library was when I discovered a copy of one of my own novels, King of the tides, at the central branch. From young reader to writer to author, the library has played an essential role in my journey every step of the way.