Thank you, Pleasant Hill Library

April 9 to April 15 is National Library Week. And so it is fitting that as I sit here taking in a magnificent view of Mt. Diablo from the bedroom of our new Pleasant Hill home–into which we moved just six days ago–I am overwhelmed by the urge to write our community library a thank you note.

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I love writing thank you notes because they are a chance to express how truly grateful I am for the people, places and things in my life. I try to write each and every thank you note with my whole heart. Before reviving my daily gratitude practice, thank you notes were my main outlet for the deep, rich pool of thankfulness that washes over me at random points in my days. I’ve been told people look forward to receiving them as much as I look forward to writing them. Now I get to ghost-write my son’s thank you notes, a fun and silly rhetorical exercise–I get to try to capture the effervescent persona of a precocious toddler. Gratitude is the gift that keeps on giving.

So, ahem… here goes:

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Dear Pleasant Hill Library,

Thank you so much for allowing my family to experience the magic of Patrick’s and Elaine’s storytimes, which kept us coming back week after week until: “Listening to storytime is no fun. Getting books is fun!” Nowadays, the wall of tubes is “super fun” and storytime is coming back into vogue. Nowadays, getting new books at the library is a daily request.

Thank you for free access to books, books and more books. And then even MORE books. My son’s appetite for reading is voracious. And thank you for saving me about a gagillion dollars because now I don’t have to buy many books. Because of you, my little man consumes books the way teenage boys consume food.

Thank you for playing a part in my 3.9 year-old’s ability to read and understand the process of searching for new information. He really can read: picture books, greeting cards, signs, tables of contents, my texts, whatever we try to censor in chapter books (he reads those now, too). He sounds out and emphasizes phenoms, which helps with pronunciation and word recognition, and it also helps us understand what our boy is trying to say (“No Mommy, D-D-D…”). My dear son even insists on correcting our rhetorical interpretation of punctuation (be still my fluttering heart). One day recently, he looked up from a book, and said “These books really help me learn new words.” Swoon! Here he is at school, on Funny Friday (the next school day after Wacky Wednesday) reading books, from the “truck book” bin, which he located on his own and climbed on the horse to access because, well, he can read.

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Just a boy on a horse reading about trucks.

Thank you for inspiring me to get involved with the Friends of the Pleasant Hill Library. Through my volunteer work with them, I’ve worked with dynamic, talented and passionate-about-our-community-library citizens such as Susan Weaver, Ann Flynn, Katherine Bracken, Jason Correia and Crystal Schimpf. Our Friends are some of the hardest working volunteers a library has ever seen.

Thank you, too, for playing such a prominent part in the writing of these magical blog posts. What more can I say? It’s magic.

Thank you for introducing me to Friend Ann Flynn, who set me up on a blind playdate, when she was manning the Friends booth at the Farmer’s Market, with another mama and her daughter who moved here from Pennsylvania. What started as an email between strangers has turned into a beautiful friendship for my son and me. In fact, I recently received a thank you note from this friend, who thanked me for our friendship and playdates. Full circle, people. Full circle.

Thank you for deepening my love of the library and strengthening my resolve to go to library school someday. Maybe even someday soon.

Thank you for getting me involved in the passage of Measure K and the building of a new library, my first foray into civic engagement since junior high student council. I mean, I attended my first city council meeting ever because of you.

Thank you so much for anchoring my family in our community. We love this pleasant and hilly place so much that my husband and I–serial renters for the past 20 years–are now pleasant (with a view of the hills) homeowners.

Thank you, Pleasant Hill Library, and more specifically Patrick Remer, for giving me the opportunity to participate on a panel of library lovers at the recent Adobe Hackathon in San Jose. Panelists included Council Member and former Mayor Sue Noack, San Pablo Community Library Manager Gia Paolini, San Jose Public Library’s Innovations Manager Erin Berman, Librarian and Consultant Crystal Schimpf, and of course our own Community Library Manager (and storytime rock star), Patrick. Adobe served us coffee and asked us to espouse the value of libraries, the challenges they face. I not only got to listen to these library leaders, but I also got to add my own two cents–as a peer! It was an especially awesome experience for me as the stay-at-home parent. My identity beyond “mommy” has been unmoored partly by parenthood and partly by geography. I still feel new here on the West Coast and my abilities beyond motherhood are sleepy. That is until one morning in February, when I dusted off my work pants, packed a lunch, and filled a thermos of Peet’s. It was Mommy who was headed out to “work” for the day. One of the panelists may have even told me he’d love to hire me if I had my library degree. I am still buoyed by his confidence in my other-than-caregiver abilities.

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That’s me, on the left!

The organizer, Annamarie Bonura, who had seen Patrick’s TED talk, “Libraries: Paracosmic Portals” and invited him to speak, informed us in an email afterward: “The hackathon qualified as volunteer hours for the Adobe employees who participated. We had 23 people who participated for 3+ hours, earning a $2,000 grant for the Friends of Pleasant Hill Library. HOORAY!!!” So we got to talk about how much we love libraries, and it earned us a donation to the Friends?! Win and win!

I don’t remember who first told me about your storytime starring Patrick (back when he used to perform on Wednesdays), Pleasant Hill Library, but I am so SO grateful they did. Look at what it started.

Much love,
Julie

PS: One last thing, Pleasant Hill Library. It’s about Patrick. Can you please make sure to thank him again for coming to do a special storytime for March in Music at Creative Play Center on a rainy Friday in March? Getting a birthday serenade from him was the start of my most celebratory birthday yet. You all are–really–the best!

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