Hi, I’m Stephanie Dickey, and I’m delighted to be the newest board member for the Friends of the Libraries!
I was born and reared in small-town Ohio, but I grew up in hundreds of different worlds, maybe thousands, thanks to the power of books. After school, I used to run to our tiny public library behind the fire station and wait until the magic porch light above the door flipped on. That was my signal to enter for dazzling escapades, mine for the reading. My co-conspiring librarian could always count on me to be the first adventurer of the afternoon. From Go Dog Go to Homer’s Odyssey, I explored my way through those two rooms of books with a passion and delight.
Books have always held transformative power for me. In fact, one entire summer I WAS Nancy Drew, searching for secret passages in my house and hiding clues behind loose limestone blocks in the foundation. Alas, during a hot murder investigation, Nancy chanced upon a huge, moldy rattrap (sans rat—unless you consider my brother the rat for putting it there) under the cellar stairs. Through the alchemy of books, Nancy effortlessly banished the trap trauma by transporting herself from the rats in River Heights to the realm of The Once and Future King until Labor Day, becoming all the characters in succession. Except Guinevere. Too tame for the intrepid girl detective.
When my family moved to the country during middle school, the public library was not nearly as accessible. Not to be deterred, however, Dad (not the successful lawyer Carson Drew but, even better, a hungry reader like me) piled all seven of us into the Ford station wagon every Tuesday night for our weekly trip to the larger and even more exotic public library of our new hometown. Sometimes my book haul took up more room in the car than I did. If my cache of good reads ran out before the week was up, I lit out for town on my trusty Schwinn (lovingly dubbed, High Speed Wobble) for the 4-mile round trip. Who wouldn’t have done that? Of course, I was limited to the number of books I could carry on those trips, but I got pretty adept at negotiating the books, the bike, and the blacktop.
That was a long time ago, and I’m still a voracious reader. These days I consume a lot of media online, but my favorite format will forever remain real books. Real physical weight in my hands. Real texture of pages. Real smell of printer’s ink. Real. I don’t have quite as much time to read for pure pleasure any more, but I still steal time like an accomplished thief just to read for fun. Even as I write, my house is a literal dust bowl, my kitchen floor is screaming out to be mopped, and my husband and I will likely have Cheerios for dinner, but I just have to finish the The Personal History of Rachel DuPree before bedtime.
I am so privileged to serve on the FOL board! Just remember, if I’m ever late to a board meeting, send a search party to find me in the stacks. I’m not lost, just beguiled by the siren call of books. Forever and ever. Amen.