Why I hang out at the local library

By Ernie Williamson

The Bulletin


I love libraries.


Some of the reasons are purely practical.


I realized 10 years ago when I became disabled that I had to look for new activities. The library became a go-to refuge.


And, as luck would have it, I now have a new neighborhood library to visit.


The new West Pearland Library is a state-of-the-art facility with amenities such as a 100-seat teaching room, community rooms, study rooms, an amphitheater and access to the Clear Creek hiking trail. It is not your grandfather’s library.


It’s a perfect place for a guy in a wheelchair to hang out on a steamy summer day.


But some of the reasons I go to the library are more emotional than practical.


I am not exactly sure why, but I feel better every time I visit the library. I feel uplifted.


Maybe it is because the library serves as an escape. I feel a sense of calmness when combing through the shelves of fiction and non-fiction. I can read about other places, other times, other people.


For a moment, I escape the Ukraine war, the dismal stock market and the mass shootings.


Or maybe it is because visiting the library is a journey into serendipity. I never know what I will find among the shelves of books.


I remember as a child my mother would drag me to the library every week. I wasn’t much of a reader at first. I preferred playing basketball or baseball with buddies.


But one day I noticed what I considered a grownup book. It was thick, had small type and no pictures.


To this day I have no idea why I grabbed “Escape from Corregidor” off a shelf. More than 60 years later, I still remember the story of Edgar Whitcomb’s survival in World War II. The book was a turning point for me. I learned how powerful and engrossing a book can be.


I can still see the shocked faces of my buddies when I told them I didn’t want to shoot hoops. I was finishing a book.


Then just last week, I took my 13-year-old granddaughter to show off the new library. Already a voracious reader who has long since read all the Harry Potter books, she surprised me by checking out the autobiography of Madeleine Albright. You never know what you will find at the library.


But it’s the people I see who make me feel best about my library visits. What I see in the library gives me hope.


In this time of racial strife, the new library reflects the diversity of our community. It’s a place where people of different races, religions and ages gather. Many share a common goal: They want to improve themselves or their families.


There is the boy holding hands with his father with one hand and carrying books in the other.


The youngster is learning there is more to read than what appears on social media.


There are the teenagers doing school projects or preparing for a GED test or a citizenship test.


And there are the study rooms where parents, realizing the value of education, have hired tutors to help educate their children.


And there are people my age looking for entertainment or challenges to help us stay sharp.


And the wonderful thing about a visit to the library is that in these times when it costs $5 a gallon to fuel your car, you can fuel your mind at the library - and it’s free of charge.


(Contact Ernie at williamsonernie@gmail.com. Or, write to The Bulletin, PO Box 2426, Angleton, TX. 77516)