Lily and the
Miss Lily Clare Butterworth was at that time the only grandchild of two members of the Friends of the Bay County Library. Since Miss Lily and her parents moved to Panama City, her grandparents Sharman and Joel Ramsey have been lured to their home in Panama City from their home in Dothan on Fridays with the promise of "Mimi, Lily, Poppy Day." Being the grandchild of avid readers, it seemed only fitting when in June 2007 Miss Lily turned five that the occasion should be honored by something significant. It was time for Miss Lily to get a library card.
Miss Lily was thrilled. Her grandfather and I picked her up at day care and promised that after lunch at Uncle Ernie’s we had a real surprise for her. She was going to get a library card and then we would go home and bake chocolate chip cookies. She and I grinned broadly at each other as we chattered away in anticipation of our exciting afternoon. Poppy rolled his eyes at our silly girl talk.
Finally, lunch was out of the way and Poppy jumped ship to get a haircut. Lily and I were left alone to carry out our mission.
Suddenly, as we parked in front of the library, Lily asked, "What’s a library card, Mimi?" I had managed to build to the moment, but apparently neglected a few of the details. Lily realized that a library card was a wondrous thing to Mimi, something to get excited about for sure. Probably, from Mimi’s excitement, a library card was on the par of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, but still, Lily wasn’t exactly sure what a library card was.
"Well, Lily," I said, searching for the right analogy. "It is kind of like the credit card your mother uses to buy things when you go shopping. You can use the card to ‘charge’ the books you select. Then, after you have read those books, you return them to the library and they will let you use your card to ‘charge’ more books to your library account."
Lily pondered this awhile and decided that was pretty neat…and definitely a big, "five year old girl" kind of thing. We grabbed our specially selected carryalls to be designated for our newly christened "Mimi, Lily, Poppy Library Day" and headed excitedly toward the library door.
First, I took her up the stairs to the Children’s Library to introduce her to the wondrous array of books that were hers for the borrowing. We climbed the steps. I lifted the gate. Lily gasped. She surged through the door and stood, hands clasped, in awe of the books, games, and computers in the new world that would be available to her…with a library card! Other children were already seated at tables reading quietly or at computers playing games. One child smiled encouragingly. Lily followed the smile and joined in putting the puzzle together.
"Come, Lily," I said. "We need to get your library card so you can ‘check out’ some of those books and take them home with you."
Now that she had an idea of what could be hers with that card, she eagerly grasped my hand and we headed back down those steps to acquire that card.
Impatiently, we awaited our turn at the library desk. Finally we approached the librarian on duty and introduced ourselves.
"My granddaughter, Lily has just turned five and we have come to celebrate by getting her very own library card," I said. Lily and I both beamed at the librarian.
"Do you have a library card?" the lady asked.
"Yes, I do. I’m not a permanent resident, but we own property in Bay County and I have a card." I pulled my own card out of my wallet.
Lily continued smiling eagerly with anticipation.
"Does Lily live with you?" the librarian asked. "Are you her guardian?"
"No, but Lily is a permanent resident. She lives with her parents. I am her grandmother. I thought this would be a wonderful grandmother/granddaughter thing for us to do."
I smiled at Lily. Her big, cornflower blue eyes showed a bit of concern and her smile waivered just a little. I shared her concern. Maybe getting this card wasn’t going to be as easy as I thought.
"You must be her guardian in order to get her a library card," the librarian informed me.
My heart fell. I had looked forward to sharing with Lily one of the things that gave me the most pleasure in this world…reading.
She looked so disappointed. I said quickly, "I can get one of her parents here, however," and I reached for my cell phone to call her father.
Glancing at Lily, I could almost see the wheels turning. Suddenly, it seemed that card that would open that gate to that wonderful world up those stairs in the Children’s Library might not be hers.
Lily had listened to the entire conversation and took each word seriously. Mimi was not making much headway here and she obviously needed some help.
"Neither of my parents are guards," she contributed worriedly. Then she looked straight at the librarian and assured her, "But they take very good care of me."
The librarian and I chuckled at her literal interpretation of our dilemma. Her father arrived quickly and tended to the bookkeeping. Then Lily was able to stuff her carryall full of five (for her age and our ability to remember how many to return) specially selected books. She strutted from the library proudly holding the biggest book of all while father followed with her bulging carryall. Her very own library card was tucked safely into a pocket in the carryall with the library’s receipt listing the books she had checked out.
Later after baking cookies and reading some of her books, she and I were in the downstairs office/library in our townhouse playing "library." I was attempting to be a quiet reader in the library while she was the librarian.
"The phone is ringing," I said, indicating her Fisher Price phone on the coffee table.
She picked up the phone and said, in a friendly, but businesslike voice "This is the library."
"Yes, we do have library cards," she told the imaginary caller.
"Yes, we are open."
She waited a few moments and then reminded the aspiring card holder, "But, be sure to bring your guard with you."
Perhaps she realized something many of us take for granted. To my granddaughter that card was a prized possession and those books, the stories and thoughts within, truly valuable. One does guard what one treasures.