In a previous column, I commented on many positive aspects of the forced quiet time during the pandemic – more time for developing those hobbies and projects that have been “on hold” for way too long, for letter writing and FaceTiming, and for being in comfy clothes for more hours on more days.

Today, I’m touching on what I miss, and the glaring subject is: the library.

There are many in our area and they all offer more than just a location in which to study or take out books/movies.

The Highland Community Library in Richland has surpassed the community’s expectations, to be sure, with an engaging staff, flavored coffees and tea, ample comfortable space, several computers and creative programs.

I belong to a crochet group (Highland Hookers) that makes items for service organizations (Special Olympics, Victims Services, Mom’s House, Birthright, Merchant Marines, veterans, patients receiving chemo or other treatments, to name a few). 

We meet monthly and crochet/knit away – sharing our time with other people, having a snack and trading patterns.

The staff accommodates us with tables, chairs and time – at no cost to our group. 

There are cookbook clubs, children’s programs, teen contests, seasonal programs, and of course, an easy room to peruse magazines and newspapers. It is a bright spot of any outing and I miss it.

I miss the staff; some are outgoing, fun and noisy, while others quietly assist and prefer being in the background. All are pleasant, all are helpful and all are missing their patrons. We all miss Ashlee’s smiles and the friendliness we have come to know.

At Christmastime, our group has a covered-dish luncheon, and we give the library a donation for the space and accommodation. I recommend donating to the library, which puts to excellent use all contributions, and you give back to your own community. Perfect!

I miss gazing at new books, the particular homey fragrance of books all categorized by subject and neatly waiting for human attention. The undone jigsaw puzzle is set up by the main desk; it is impossible to ignore and begs for patrons to work a piece or two.

There are displays depending on the holiday, season or event, and books are highlighted for easy selection. Large booklets about new publications are one of the many freebies (including bookmarks, brochures and other printed material) easily attained when leaving. Outside are tables and benches for reading, socializing and daydreaming.

I have heard a vaccine may soon to be available against this pandemic, and many will partake. Hopefully, businesses and nonprofits will reopen and reap the benefits of normalcy in the near future. I simply want to walk into the Highland Library, say hello to the smiling staff, and go directly to the new books section, inhaling the familiar smell of pages.

It will be glorious.

For now, I thank the staff for accepting reservations by phone or online and even offering free books outside.

I miss you all. Our group sends its well wishes, and we look forward to returning soon.

Jean Croyle is a freelance writer and author who resides in Central City.

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