As a child, I loved books and, by extension, libraries.
My favorite fantasy was that every night, when the library doors were locked, the covers of the books were magically unlocked and the people who inhabited their pages stepped out, free to befriend and bedevil one another.
Characters mingled across time and space with other characters and shared new, even more exciting, adventures. Shamelessly, I spied on them and eavesdropped on their conversations.
Imagine a chat between Joe March and Nancy Drew. What would Tom Sawyer say to Little Lord Fauntleroy? These people were my friends, as real to me as any of my classmates. I told them secrets and shared dreams I knew no one else would understand.
I still love libraries and I still see them as places of magical adventure, but now I understand that they are so much more.
I'm not sure when the concept of a library first occurred to mankind, but I know that the history of libraries goes back to at least 1200 BC, to the ancient port city of Ugarit in Syria.
What a concept a library is! Think about it - the decision to establish a place to collect and organize all recorded knowledge. Could anything be more ambitious? More noble? More valuable?
And they're free. You don't need a penny in your pocket to be endlessly entertained or, if your aim is more serious, to be enlightened by the greatest minds in the history of human thought.
You can go into a library and find a book about any subject you want. If you don't know what you want, all you have to do is ask. There's sure to be someone around to direct you to a book that will at least get you started on whatever path you want to explore.
We're lucky in Bucks County to have a fine library system: seven branches, located in Doylestown, Levittown, Bensalem, Quakertown, Langhorne, Perkasie, and Yardley.
Besides these, there are community public libraries, located throughout the county, so no matter where you live, you're near a library.
In addition to the astonishing number of books and other materials on the shelves, libraries offer programs to groups of all ages and for every imaginable interest.
But don't take my word for it. Visit a library or check one out online at http://www.buckslib.org