Stacy, at Exceedingly Mundane (don't you just love that blog title?), hosts a Question of the Day. Today her question was about libraries. Do you visit your local library, have a card, and what is your involvment? I loved this question, because it took me on a trip down memory lane. When I was growing up, the local library was one of my favorite places, especially in the summer. My brothers and friends and I would ride our bikes there, and it was always so refreshing to arrive at the cool, brick building after a ride on the hot, asphalt streets of our neighborhood. We would sit on the floor in the aisles between the book stacks, reading and sorting through our choices. We always signed up for the Summer Reading Program, which consisted of reading 30 books (series books such as Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys didn't qualify -- a smart move by the librarian to get the kids to broaden their horizons a bit.) When we read our 30 books, we were rewarded with a gift certificate and an American Flag -- one of those on a stick with the gold point on the end. We thought it was just the cat's meow. This morning, I took my daughter to our local library -- same library that I went to as a kid, but it is now in it's third building and about 90 times bigger. She is in the Summer Reading Program, which has a "sleuthing" theme this year. Today, she'll learn about finger printing, decoding and following clues. When she finishes reading her 30 books, or 30 hours of reading, she gets an ice cream party and a free book. And for every 10 in between, she'll get a certificate for a kids' meal at Chic Filet or free bowling pass. Just for signing up, she gets a book mark, and a coupon for an Icee. The Children's Room was full of kids and parents, looking through the stacks of books, then heading for the "reading area", which has been beautifully decorated with a mural of a forest, filled with stuffed chairs of different primary colors, and inhabited by large stuffed animals representing the forest. I find myself thinking about Meg Ryan's character in "You've Got Mail." Her quaint little book store is being replaced by a huge chain book store, and she is so prepared to hate it. Yet, when she walks into the children's section, so much larger and fancier than what her store had to offer, she realizes that although the environment is so different, people's love of books is still the same. Perhaps our libraries have to be fancier and jazzed up, to attract kids who are used to seeing their stories animated on a TV or computer. And, I have to say, it's a lot more comfy sitting in those colored overstuffed chairs than on the hard floor between the stacks of books -- although I still find myself sliding down to the floor, just to browse a book or to nestle beside my daugher and read over her shoulder. Following on the 4th of July -- is there anything more American than a library? Where you can go for free to read books that are free and, for the most part, uncensored? And finally, Charles Elliott says it well: Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counsellors, and the most patient of teachers. And P.J. O'Rourke, gives the reader this wise advice: Always read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it. Happy reading!