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October 02, 2023

Tote Bags, Bookshelves & The Anticipation of the Next Read

By Sarah Davis

2023 is the year of stories at Hamilton East Public Library. Every month on our blog, we’re featuring a guest writer from our community to share in their own words what the library means to them. We hope these stories will demonstrate that there’s something for everyone at the library, and you belong here. 

Our October library story discusses how being raised to be a reader can last a lifetime and the way libraries serve as a constant resource through changing stages of life.

My Introduction to a Love of Books

“I remember visiting my hometown library excitedly as a little girl with my empty tote bag, ready to cram it full of new books. I started in the tall shelves of the children’s room downstairs before graduating to the bright teen room years later. My sister and I would eagerly haul our heavy bags of stories to the car and immediately start reading one on the drive home.

Tales of how books shaped our childhood are still part of our family lore. The summer we drove all the way to Yosemite National Park and our parents had to say, “Girls! Put your books away and look at the mountains!” The 6th grade cross country season where I would sneak a book along on my run so I could read a couple of chapters rather than run 3 miles. The midnight Harry Potter releases when we’d join the line of Muggle enthusiasts who couldn’t wait one more minute to get their hands on the next year of Harry’s story at Hogwarts. The focal point of my childhood bedroom was the bookshelf filled with Berenstain Bears, American Girl Doll books, The Baby-Sitter’s Club series. My mom was the librarian at my High School, and I worked as a library aide throughout High School. I was raised to be a reader for the rest of my life.

The HEPL Chapter

I’ve been part of the Hamilton County community since I started teaching Junior High here 15 years ago. One of the first things I did in this town was get my library card at the Hamilton East Public Library. I immediately told my mom and sister, both librarians, about the great selection and the plentiful shelves of new books in my new library. That library card got plenty of use as I quickly became a frequent visitor. I soon found the “Request A Purchase” feature through my account. I’ve been delighted over and over when they add a book to their library that I’ve been wanting to read and can pick it up from the Holds shelf on my next visit or download an audiobook copy. My sister and I still compare notes about what we’re reading and what we should put in our stack of books to start next.

I’ve been so impressed with the HEPL staff and their eagerness to help visitors. During COVID, they pivoted to curbside pick-ups and figured out how to get books out efficiently and safely while we were all at home. HEPL is currently going through a multi-stage renovation and are continually shifting which areas patrons have access to browse. The new areas are beautiful, and they’ve made it possible for every age reader to continue to get books.

Teacher Reader

As a teacher who is always trying to instill and cultivate a love of reading in my students, I’m so thankful for this resource in our town. HEPL has a great relationship with our public schools and allows loans to our school library and access to research databases to my students. I’ve also been able to encourage students to visit the Ignite Studio and take classes there to learn new skills. The Studio is one of the coolest parts of our library and a gift to families. Last year, I got a copy of Front Desk by Kelly Yang for my classroom book collection through the Books Build Bridges program. I was then able to attend the author event with two of my English teacher co-workers and meet Kelly in person. It’s so important to me that my students see themselves and their classmates reflected in the books that they read. HEPL has always done a tremendous job of cultivating a catalog of books that will represent all different kinds of kids.

A New Series

This past year, I became a mom for the first time, and we started reading books at home from the first week we brought Jack home. We started attending Fishers Babytime when he was about a month old, after we heard about it from a friend. The interactive, energetic staff, songs, and stories immediately impressed me, and we have returned week after week. My son loves everything from “Llama Llama” to the silly songs with shaker eggs and the mesmerizing bubble machine at the end. We completed the Summer Reading Program and are working on the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten Challenge. Now, he’s the one with a full tote bag of books every week (even if I’m the one carrying it and reading them out loud for now). I’m so glad he has access to a library that will engage him for years to come, just like I did growing up.”

About Sarah Davis:

Sarah Davis has been a lover of books all her life. She and her husband Justin have been married for 5 years, love their son Jack, and both live and work in Fishers. A Junior High English teacher since 2009, Sarah is always looking for new titles to add to her book collection so she can recommend them to students. She’s a proud Library Person, user of both Goodreads and StoryGraph, and can never pass up a visit to an Indie Bookshop. If she could have a dinner date with her favorite authors, she’d pick Katherine Center, Elin Hildebrand, Taylor Jenkins Reid, and Shauna Niequist.

Have your own library story to share? Tell us about it here, and we’ll pick a few to be featured on our blog! You can also find storytelling resources and tips here

Read previous library stories: