No Holds Barred: Lifelong Learning, the Library, and Me

30 Jul

highlands-ranch-library.jpgAs a weekly patron at the Highlands Ranch library for the past twelve years, I find myself circling back through its doors again and again like a homing pigeon returning to its loft. Searching the stacks for solutions is a hobby of mine—my approach to navigating through life’s particular challenges and changing situations.


From the days when the library was modestly housed in a small strip mall to its current location in its splendid and spacious structure, the Highlands Ranch library has provided a home for my inquiring spirit. To me, a lifelong learner and a busy stay-at-home mother of five, the library is more than a brick-and-mortar building. Its services and materials provide a mental lifeline, an intellectual retreat, and a continual source of knowledge that nourishes my rich, inner life and keeps my mind active, engaged, and invigorated.


Over the years, I have turned to the library when I have needed advice or help in various undertakings. For example, before deciding to home school my children, I read extensively on the subject, weighing all the pros and cons. For the next six years, the resources I borrowed from the library provided me with the support group, rich curriculum, and teacher training I needed to succeed.


When I started an adult ballet class several years ago at the age of 36, borrowing “The New York City Ballet Workout” DVDs and The Joffrey Ballet School’s Ballet-Fit book helped me become a better dancer.


While studying drama in a college literature class last semester, I checked out several video productions of “Hamlet” and the audio CDs of “The Cherry Orchard” to enhance my understanding of the plays we were studying.


Months ago, while working on a Beethoven piano concerto, I found a recording that helped me figure out how a particularly difficult passage in the piece should be played.


While struggling to find a way to connect with my older daughter, I encountered the book The Mother-Daughter Book Club: How Ten Busy Mothers and Daughters Came Together to Talk, Laugh, and Learn. Together, my daughter and I formed our own mother-daughter book club and four years later, it is still going strong.


And within the past year, reading books such as Pen on Fire: A Busy Woman’s Guide to Igniting the Writer Within, Literary Mama: Reading for the Maternally Inclined, and Writing Motherhood: Tapping into Your Creativity as a Mother and a Writer, have helped me see that my dream of being a writer is not only possible but even compatible with my current circumstances.

Of course, these are only a few of the ways the Douglas County Library System has improved the quality of my life over the years. With access to millions of items, my education never has to end and can always be customized to my continually fluctuating whims and ever-changing mind. Always accessible, portable, and free, the library accommodates every season of life. Every time I leave the library hefting my oversize tote bag filled to the brim with books, CDs, and DVDs, I feel a deep sense of satisfaction, expectation, and gratitude. I am the richest woman on earth because I live in a county where I have ready access to information that enriches, empowers, encourages and shapes me, granting me the limitless freedom to grow and soar. To quote our library director, Jamie LaRue, from two past Douglas County News-Press columns, cultivating a rich, inner life is about “storing up treasures that endure.” It’s about “a series of experiments and explorations. And the public library is the laboratory. Literacy is more than a life skill. It’s a life.” What would I do without the excellent resources available through the Douglas County library system? A better question might be, “What can’t I do without the library?” The realm of inexhaustible possibilities keeps me coming back for more, week after week. My holds await and with them, the immeasurable impetus of ideas.

Note: This piece appeared in the Colorado Community Newspapers on September 27, 2007.


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