Library spaces have always been one of my favorite places, but I never really felt like I’d found my library until I was an adult. As a kid, we moved around a lot so I remember visiting many different branches growing up, without feeling connected to one in particular. Later, in college, the main campus library was cold and massive. It never really felt like a space I wanted to crawl into surrounding myself with books. It always felt like work in that library. As an art student, I wasn’t spending much time in the library to begin with. I found myself working on papers in my studio rather than behind a desk.
My jobs throughout school had always been at bookstores. I’d never really found I needed to go to the library. I had endless access to new books, as the publishers would send us galleys of the books before they were published, so I never wandered around my local library, looking for something to read. That was until I found my library.
I moved to Ohio almost seven years ago. I had met my future husband while living in Boston, working in an independent children’s bookstore. I was ready for a change and he talked me into moving to the Midwest. I had grown up in California, moved to the East Coast when I was seventeen, and was now going to try the middle of the county. I had no idea what I was in for. What I didn’t expect was to fall so madly in love with Ohio.
We moved into a rental house in Peninsula, Ohio, a town of 600 or so people surrounded by the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. I went from living in the Bay Area of over a million people to 600, wondering how did I get here? But Peninsula has this charm about it. It kind of sneaks up on you unexpectedly. And that’s when I found my library.
The first time I went to the Peninsula Library and Historical Society I remember feeling comfortable, like visiting someone’s house for dinner. It’s a small library with this strange python mural on the front of it (I would later learn all about Python Day here in Peninsula), but it’s lovely in so many ways. It has this way of enveloping you in warmth when you go in, the same way the town does. The librarians are so friendly and helpful, always encouraging my children’s book career and interested in whatever I was working on next. They have ice cream socials and story time for kids, art activities throughout the year, Lego competitions, yoga, May Day, and so much more that they do for the community.
It was there that I joined an afternoon book club, where I was the youngest member by almost 30 years. I love those ladies. Their families have been a part of the town forever, it seems, and they know about everything that goes on. Joining that book club made me feel like I was actually a part of a community, a part of something bigger than just me. Being just another number in a big city, I had never felt that before. I remember sitting in book club the first time I read one of my own reviews in Book Page. I was so excited, and it seemed fitting that I would read it in my library. A space that had become my own in so many ways.
A couple years later we bought our first house in Lakewood, Ohio. At the time we couldn’t find anything we could afford in Peninsula, so with heavy hearts we left, hoping one day we could come back. Three years later, after our wedding, a new dog, and the birth of our son, we found ourselves right back in Peninsula, buying a fixer upper to call home. We moved just up the street from our old tiny yellow barn house rental. We had come full circle. I love Peninsula and I love my library here. It has become a part of me and my family. Dorothy said it best, “there’s no place like home.”
Lindsay Ward is the author and illustrator of the following titles:
Lindsay will be offering a special storytime at the Chardon Branch on Saturday, Sept. 9 from 10:30 – 11:30 a.m. She will also be at the Local Author Fair that afternoon, also at the Chardon Branch, from 1 – 3 p.m, to sell, sign, and discuss her books. She is currently reading The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood and Truck, Truck, Goose by Tammi Sauer, pictures by Zoe Waring.
Available in the following formats: