A Lifetime of Learning and Growing


Hi Friends!

Thankfully, some things never change…

“What one loves in childhood

stays in the heart forever.”

~Mary Jo Putney

Sweet memories of our weekly visits to the library as a child still warm my heart. I would thoughtfully choose an armful of books to check out, and couldn’t wait to begin reading them. I hugged them tightly, like treasures, while sitting in the backseat on the ride home from the library. I would often stay up late reading, with my book and a flashlight hidden beneath the blankets.

I’m so grateful that my mother shared her love of reading with me!  Each afternoon, when I came home from school, it was so comforting to see my mom sitting in her favorite chair quietly reading as she waited for us. Although the print is a bit larger now, my mom continues to be an avid reader. Whenever I visit, it’s such a comfort to see her reading in her favorite chair. Readers raise readers.


A few childhood favorites

One of my greatest joys in life has been sharing my love of reading with my young students over the years. Gathering them close to read aloud. Helping them to discover that reading is thinking. Reading books by our ‘Author of the Month’ and celebrating with lively book discussions during our monthly ‘Author’s Lunch’ gatherings helped them blossom.  Watching my students grow into real readers, with favorite authors, and a wish list of books to read was so exciting. Several students dreamed of becoming authors when they grew up. When they write letters to me, from middle school, high school, or the university, they are still eager to share what books they are reading now. Readers raise readers.

One of the blessings of my ‘Renaissance’ (the special ‘R’ word that I use for retirement) is the wonderful gift of time spent at our public library. Our library is the heartbeat of our community and encourages lifelong learning in so many exciting ways!

It’s always so nice to visit the Children’s Library to see young children and their parents engaged in reading together. Early Literacy activities and reading celebrations help our young readers discover the joys of reading. Special areas of the library have also been designed for Middle School students, and Teens.  There is so much to learn here at the library!


Our library is just over ten years old.

The original library had outgrown its space in a historic mansion in the park.


I will always remember Opening Day at the new library!  All of the books had already been moved and organized in the new building. There was just one book remaining in the old library. Avid readers, young and old, gathered to form a human chain from the old library building, across the park, to our new library. We passed the last book, hand to hand, across the park to its home in our new library. What a moment… and a special celebration of the joy of reading!


Nonfiction books are always my favorite genre.

I’m passionate about learning, growing, and blossoming in new ways.

Just walking through the door of the library fills me with a sense of discovery!


The ‘Travel Center’ is a wonderful resource for vacation planning…

and armchair travelers, too.


There is so much creative inspiration everywhere at the library!


At the ‘Culinary Cupboard,’ library patrons can borrow specialty baking pans for one week.

Perhaps it’s time to plan a party!


Our library offers so many interesting programs and classes each month. Last week, I attended three different technology classes and began learning Tai Chi, in evening classes at the library. In fact, the library is where I learned how to write our blog!


You can see  a tiny sampling of the diverse classes coming up at the library. I have enjoyed classes in photography, memoir writing, watercolor painting, flower arranging, and so many other creative interests. This weekend, papercrafters will gather for our first  ‘Crop’ event at the library.  I’m really looking forward to an entire day of creativity, fun, and friendship!


Over the years, many things have changed…

Our library has continued to evolve with the changing times. Now we visit the library to access computer databases for research or genealogy. We use scanners at the library to digitize our old family slides for memory keeping. Some people come to use the 3-D printer, the Study Rooms, the Creative Studio Lab, or the Gathering Room.  A variety of clubs attract people who love to read, cook, sew, blog, converse in a foreign language, travel, meditate, play games, or do genealogy. Our librarians and library staff  share so many of their specialized talents with all of us.  We feel so fortunate to take an active part in this learning community!

There is something for everyone at the library.

It’s a wonderful place to meet friendly people who share the same interests!

Readers often enjoy a quiet place near the fireplace,

with a hot drink, and a good book, newspaper, or magazine.

The library feels like a calm, peaceful oasis on a cold winter’s day!


Thankfully, some things never change.

I still love to come home with an armful of interesting books…

and I can’t wait to get started reading them!


What are your favorite ways to use your public library?

How has your library changed over the years?

Happy Reading!

♡ Dawn



36 thoughts on “A Lifetime of Learning and Growing

  1. Hi Dawn,
    What a nice post about the library. Brings back memories! I loved the library and my BFF and I could spend a day there. In the summer she and I would take our books home and spend the afternoon on the porch just reading.
    I honestly do not get to the library often now and a new one was built a few years ago. Living out of town makes a difference. It seems I can never find what I am looking for there and after a while I gave up. It’s too easy to order on Amazon! But with retirement looming I may need to revisit the library. I will give it another try!
    Stay warm!

    • Good Morning, Chris! The library has been such a wonderful part of my ‘Renaissance.’ It has been a great place for learning, social connections, and so many new friendships! Libraries have changed so much over the past decade. I think you will find that your library is also changing! As I approached retirement, I thought that I would visit the library once a week. The exciting classes, programs, and clubs at the library often have me there several times a week! Libraries are such amazing places for learning and growing… in so many unexpected ways! Hope you are calling upon your ‘One Little Word’ and finding some relaxing moments throughout each day. Wishing you a happy start to the week, dear Chris! ♡

  2. One of my very favorite topics – the library. Our library has some years on it and is bursting at the seams, but I find all the books I need there and they are so wonderful about ordering something I want but they don’t have. It is not a bright, beautiful place as you depict above, and they do not offer classes. I’m never without a library book mounted on the treadmill, one on the end table, and a couple on the nightstand. Reading can take you anywhere you want to go. 🙂

    • Your library sounds like a wonderful, exciting place to learn, Judy! When we are traveling, we love to peek inside old libraries that we pass along the way. So much history within the walls of an older library! When I moved into my own home, I read every book the library had on Midwest gardening each winter for the first few years. It helped my green thumb grow and grow! Stacks of books truly make a house a home. I have several books waiting for a quiet moment on this frigid day here! Wishing you a great week, Judy! Happy reading! ♡

  3. Dawn, thank you for this lovely post about your library! I always loved visiting the library when I was a young girl all the way up to where I am today – an avid adult reader. When I was in grade school, my favorite haunt was the Lakewood Public Library in Dallas. It was in a triangular piece of land across from the theater, built out of stone with window alcoves you could snuggle into and read your new-found treasures. When I couldn’t make it to the library, I would climb the sycamore tree in our backyard with a tote bag of books on my shoulder and while away the day with new adventures and old favorites.
    Your entry about the last book being handed from person to person to its new home in the new library brought a tear to my eye. “If you can read, you can learn how to do anything” has been my mantra for years. Thanks again for posting this. I’m going out today to the library to learn how to create a blog. Wish me luck!

    • Oh, Jo! Thank you for sharing your wonderful library memories! Window alcoves and library books are just meant for one another! ❤ I had tears in my eyes when I was sharing the story about passing the book. They saved the perfect book for last ~ a beautiful children's book, called The Library, by Sarah Stewart. I’m sure that all of the children in the chain of readers that morning will always remember it, too! ❤ I'm so excited that you will be learning about blogging, Jo! Yay!! You have so many wonderful stories to share! 🙂 Blogging has become one of the unexpected joys in my life! Hope to see you very soon, Jo! Stay warm! ♡

  4. I’ve always loved reading, too, and my parents were always supportive – in fact, when the DG library had a brick walk fundraiser, I donated a brick in their honor, since they let me read to my heart’s content.

    I love the story of the last book of the old library passing through all those hands to its new home – how fun!

    • What an amazing gift your parents shared, Ginnie! The love of reading begins in childhood on the laps of our parents. Your parents must have been so tickled that you honored them with a brick, forever celebrating the gift of reading they shared with you! ❤ The DG library is a wonderful place! I spent several hours reading there on the day that we met Susan (and one another!). So happy that you stopped to visit today, Ginnie! I'm really looking forward to our Afternoon Tea with Susan Branch in May!! It will be a wonderful reunion of Girlfriends! Can't wait to see you! Warm hugs on a very cold morning! ♡

  5. Good morning, Dawn! What a beautiful library you have! So bright and cheery and well-organized! I, too, am a book lover and always have been. Every Saturday my best friend (who lived right next door) and I would take our little allowance and walk downtown to the library to get our armful of books and then stop by the dimestore for a bagful of penny candy. I have loved libraries always! I also love what a great gift you have given to your students! What a wonderful teacher you are/were and a greater blessing no parent could have hoped for for their children’s formative years! I have just started an interesting book about a bookseller in Paris….I hope it’s good….you never know. It’s called The Little Paris Bookshop. Have a wonderful day! xo….Karen

    • Heartfelt thanks for your sweet words, dear Karen! I felt so honored to help my young students grow into lifelong readers. Our school librarian often told me that my students spent much more time than other students choosing just the right library books for themselves. They had discovered favorite authors and genres and could often be heard recommending a favorite book to classmates. I always felt so proud of them! ❤ Our school library was also a wonderful place of learning! A good library puts the whole world at your fingertips! I just love your childhood library memories, Karen! Your new book sounds like ‘my cup of tea.’ I will add it to my reading list, too! I can just picture you sitting in your cozy reading chair, under a quilt, carried off to a charming, little bookshop in Paris! ❤ Happy travels, my friend! ♡

  6. Dawn,
    Your neighborhood library is truly extraordinary! Specialty baking pans for checkout?! I wish I had this post in hand before my post last week. It has given me hope for the future of libraries. I can only hope librarians and the powers that be, are reading your posts and are aware of the wonderful service possibilities they could incorporate to increase patronage.
    Have a good week.

    • Our library is truly a blessing in my life, Karen! It’s so popular that it can be hard to find a parking place there! From toddlers walking hand-in-hand with their parents to seniors who love learning, everyone gathers at the library! It feels like a very special oasis, each time I walk through the doors. I’m so impressed by all of the librarians and library staff. They are very helpful and have so many talents to share! ❤

      I just discovered the display of specialty baking pans last week, while taking library photos. It is a brilliant idea! Imagine the fun of borrowing a specialty pan for a party, holiday baking, or cake decorating practice! These heavy pans are very expensive to buy, take so much room to store, and are often only used once or twice. I'm looking forward to checking out a specialty pan and a cookbook soon! 🙂

      By visiting other libraries, community members can see all of the possibilities that can help today's libraries thrive. Adopting small changes over time can help a library become the heart of a community! Libraries are evolving in new ways that we never thought possible a few years ago. Another exciting trend for libraries is adding ‘Maker’ spaces, where community members can share knowledge and the tools for so many creative endeavors! It’s all so exciting! I love talking about libraries with you, Karen! Your post blog post really made me think about the future of libraries. By changing to meet the needs of the times, I think libraries will not only thrive, but can truly become the heart of the community! Heartfelt thanks for bringing attention to the importance of libraries, Karen! Hope your week is off to a wonderful start! ♡

  7. Well, Dawn, as you might imagine, you have touched a happy nerve in me.

    I know your library, which was once mine as well, and remember that remarkable day when book lovers passed that very last book from the old library to the new. I was there for the gala opening and the stirrings in all who attended.
    Now that I live in another town, a town without a library, I sometimes wonder if folks in my old town know what a treasure they have. You certainly do. I will say that in spite of the fact we don’t have a library, our city does pay up to $100 for a library card, if a resident should choose to buy one from another town. I did my shopping, found the most reasonable library, and actually get my card for about $80/year. Not a bad bargain at all, since I can use it in all the wonderful libraries in the area, and do, often coming home, on the same day, with three books from here and four from there.

    The garden club’s horticulture and conservation/education committee will be having their discussion of the “The Gardener of Versailles . . . ” at your very own library on Wednesday AND in April, there will be a wonderful opportunity to see new introductions from the Ball Seed Company, a joint effort from the library and the garden club as we wind down our celebration of 90 years. It will be open to the public and I think you would enjoy it.

    Right now, from one library I have an audio recording of Anna Quindlen’s “Still Life With Bread Crumbs”, that makes my driving to and fro pleasurable, and am reading about the Versailles (cramming) for our Wednesday discussion. That book is from another library. I was, indeed, raised by readers and am a reader.

    Fabulous post, Dawn. Thank you

    • Oh, Penny! It’s so nice to think that we both helped to pass the last book, then toured our new library in awe! ❤ Best of all, our library has continued to evolve to meet the changing needs of readers and lifelong learners. I can’t imagine my ‘Renaissance’ without our amazing library! I can’t imagine my teaching career, without supplementing my own classroom library with books from our public library! (Sometimes you just need 25 easy-to-read books about dinosaurs or polar bears for a class research project! 🙂 Our library always made it possible!)

      My husband and I are both avid library users. We often wonder how many times our paths may have crossed at the old library, before we even met. Perhaps he held the door for me, as I left with an armful of books? We like to think that it might have happened! ❤ We both agree that any place we ever choose to live must have a wonderful library. It truly is the heart of a community! There are times when we use the college library across the street, too.

      It's fascinating to hear how you have found wonderful ways to use neighboring libraries, Penny! Where there’s a will, there’s a way for avid readers! ❤ It takes more effort and planning, but I am so happy that you are able to enjoy the book collections of so many libraries. We just love visiting other libraries when we are out exploring or traveling!

      I loved reading ‘The Gardener of Versailles.’ What stories he could tell! It’s sure to be a great topic for discussion among the Garden Club members. I would love to come to the Ball Seed Company program in April! Thank you so much for letting me know. I will definitely look for the details. ‘Still Life with Bread Crumbs’ is a great read! I can’t think of anything nicer, on a cold winter’s day, than dreaming of a warm walk through the gardens of Versailles. Happy travels, dear Penny! ♡

  8. Dear Dawn, what a lovely post about the wonderful world of books and lifelong learning at the library! I had tears when you told of passing the last book from the old to the new library! The new library is lovely and so full of light! I can imagine enjoying many hours in such a grand place! You must have several librarians on staff. I love the story of your mother reading and her influence on your lifelong love of books. When I was expecting our daughter Noel, I read to her and continued to read to her as a baby and into her adult years! She is an avid reader and loves books more than anything! Hooray for libraries and books! Even though I read books on my Kindle, there is NOTHING like a real book! xoxo ♥

    • Thank you so much, Martha Ellen! It’s such fun to learn new things at the library classes and special programs. There is a large staff at the library. For several, this is a second career. So, they bring experience from the world of business, photography, technology, etc.

      What an amazing gift you shared with Noel! She will have a love of reading for the rest of her life. You will have to ask Noel about her favorite childhood memories of reading with you. ❤ I wonder what she would say?

      Although I will be reading some eBooks now, I completely agree! There is nothing like a real book (or magazine). I just love tucking a special bookmark or ribbon inside to hold my place. Thank you so much for being a very special part of our blog, Martha Ellen! Happy Reading! ♡

    • We both share such sweet memories of our childhood library visits, Julie! It’s just one of the many reasons why books and reading still touch our hearts today. I’m so happy to know that your daughter is a teacher! ❤ She is making a huge difference in the lives of her students. I'm so glad that you stopped to visit today, Julie! Happy Reading! ♡

    • Good morning, Kim! I knew you would enjoy one of our favorite places! 🙂 We are so blessed to have such a wonderful library to help us learn and grow in such delightful, unexpected ways. Warm hugs on a cold winter’s day, sweet friend! ♡

  9. What wonderful library memories, Dawn—and it sounds like you’re making new ones there all the time. I, too, loved the library as a kid; I would go home with 20 books at a time, and I remember the librarian once asking me if I planned to read all of them. You bet I did! I wish teaching had worked out for me so that I could have also shared my love of reading with the students; I hope in the short time I was there I helped them appreciate it at least a little more than they did before. Hope you have a great week ❤ Any snow expected by you?

    • Many thanks, Chris! Isn’t it fun to think back on where our love for reading (and writing!) began? Those powerful influences helped us grow into avid readers. I just loved teaching reading and writing to my young students over the years. Sharing a passion for what we love can be so inspiring! I’m sure that you did have an impact on your students, too, Chris! ❤ You have made reading, writing, and editing into an exciting career. We have been in an Artic freeze for several days in the Midwest. A bit of snow may be on the way tonight. I’m happy to be cozy inside, enjoying my library books! Happy Reading! ♡

  10. I’ve always loved the library and went there often as a child. In college, I found it a haven of peace for me to study. I claimed my own little spot and went there every day. Today, our small library is a treasure and sometimes I go in just to smell the books. this may sound weird to some, but true book lovers will know what I’m talking about.

    • Hi Brenda! We understand exactly what you’re talking about! 🙂 I just love hearing your library memories. I had forgotten, but I did the same thing in college. I had a favorite little study space in the library, too. It warms my heart just thinking about it now. Sharing our love of books and libraries with the younger generations will help keep our libraries thriving into the future. Thanks so much for stopping to visit today, Brenda! Happy Reading! ♡

  11. Dawn, I couldn’t believe your opening quote! My friend, and also a fellow blogger, Marlene, machine embroidered that very same quote for me as a gift…and I’ve just blogged about it today. Here’s the link: http://gardeningnirvana.com/2016/01/18/a-stitch-in-time/

    Like you, I used to bring home armfuls of books from the library and sometime the book mobile that later came to our street. I had never seen anything like it. We walked up the stairs out of the hot Sacramento sun into an air-conditioned library on wheels. I’ll never forget that. For awhile I wanted to be a librarian, and used to volunteer to put books away in my grade school and middle school library. Books are magical.

    Both my parents were readers and we all read as well. I remember my third grade teacher gathering us into a circle after lunch, dimming the lights and reading aloud from Stewart Little and Charlotte’s Web. One of my favorite activities with my boys was also reading to them. It’s amazing the traditions steeped in reading.

    Loved this post! xo

    • Kindred spirits, Alys! I love that we share a favorite quote! Your childhood library memories are a delight. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to have a visiting Book Mobile. We also share a special third grade memory, Alys! Right after lunch, our principal would come to our classroom to read aloud a chapter from Charlotte’s Web each day. Those read-aloud memories will always have a special place in my heart. May books always be your friends, dear Alys! ♡
      On my way to visit…

  12. What a beautiful library you have with literally everything at your fingertips! I’ve started to re-visit mine each week now, not just to check out books, but to try to get involved in other aspects of what the library offers as well. I’ve just joined a knitting/crochet circle that meet every Saturday. Thanks for bringing this lovely post on books for your post, it truly was grand reading it!

    • Heartfelt thanks, Loretta! We are very fortunate to have a thriving library in our community. It was always my intention to visit the library once a week when I retired. It quickly captured my heart, as a place to meet kindred spirits who were also home during the day. Most weeks, I visit several times to learn and grow in different classes. I love to go an hour early for classes, just to enjoy the new books and magazine collections. How wonderful to have a knitting/crochet circle that meets weekly at your library! I wish we could start a weekly papercrafting ‘Crop’ time to share creativity, friendship, and fun at our library! (Perhaps I will make the suggestion!) By evolving with our changing lifestyles, public libraries will continue to thrive. I’m so happy that you stopped to visit today, Loretta! Happy reading… and knitting! ♡

  13. You have a wonderful library there. Ours is undergoing renovation but they have no extra events there that I’ve heard of. It would certainly be nice if they did. I have my own library at home so I never run out of reading material. Your header photo rings true for me. I’ve embroidered that phrase many times now. I live for books. Wanted to own a bookstore and just live there. Didn’t get to go to college or I would have been a librarian or teacher. I just loan out my books now. 🙂 Loved my visit here. Alys sent me. 🙂

    • Welcome, Marlene! So happy that Alys sent you! 🙂 Won’t it be exciting to see how your library evolves during the renovation? Our library was only ten years old, but underwent a huge renovation last year to meet the changing needs of library users. We feel so fortunate to have access to all of the new improvements! There is a ‘Stitches’ group that meets regularly at our library to work on their own projects. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could organize a small group of ‘stitchers’ at your library?

      I can just feel your love for books, Marlene! So happy that you are curating your own book collection and sharing your books. I guess you have become a ‘librarian’ after all! 🙂 Your embroidery is just lovely. It’s fun to know that we both love this quote! I’m looking forward to visiting your blog. Sending warm hugs (and snowflakes) from the frigid Midwest! ♡

      • My sister in law is calling later today. She is in Missouri and housebound from an ice storm. Brrr. Yes, I have become a bit of a librarian. I’m anxious to see how they improve that old historic building too with all the restrictions they have for it. I’ll be back by soon.

      • Oh, dear! Hope your family is safe at home. We are watching the weather map to see what comes our way next. January is the perfect time to enjoy cozy socks, good books, and hot tea! (Watercolors, too. I’ve been playing all morning!) Come visit my garden posts, Marlene, for a little escape from winter! Happy Reading! ♡

  14. Oh, Dawn, your blog is wonderful! I”m so very proud of you for keeping it up and making it such a great piece to read. I still remember they day “we” launched it- one of my favorite stories to tell people. You’ll be happy to hear we’ve booked another CROP Day on March 5- you’ll hear about it in the upcoming newsletter.

    • Heartfelt thanks, Cher! I constantly share our story of launching the blog together. 🙂 I was so nervous to hit ‘publish’ for the very first time! By the time I drove home from the library that evening, someone in New Zealand was reading my blog! At that moment, I knew that blogging would be a very special addition to my life!<3

      Yay!! I'm so excited to hear about our next CROP Day! It was such a wonderful experience on Saturday. In fact, I’m already working on a post about it! Thank you for all you do, Cher, to make our library such a vibrant, exciting place to learn and grow!! Warm hugs! ♡

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