A Belgian in the North Country: read till you drop

Hello, My name is Melissa and I am a book addict or a bookworm, however you want to call it. I have been disappearing in books since the day that I discovered the written word for the first time. It all started with books for toddlers, then I moved on to the children books, but even those were not enough excitement to me. My parents soon discovered my addiction, and where normally addictions should be suppressed, my parents encouraged me even more. So I blame my mom, who is also a bookworm, partly for my addiction. My grandma once said, “Wherever you see Melissa, there is a book as well.”

When I was in high school, I owned my first mobile phone, just like all my classmates did. Most of them were secretly texting or calling through the night. I didn’t even know where my phone was located because I was hiding under my sheets while flipping through another exciting book. And don’t get me talking about the day I learned about Harry Potter. After discovering the first book, I wanted to read more. With a birthday just after Christmas, I was pretty confident about getting the latest Harry Potter book. “Go to sleep,” is what my mom said and I nodded. As soon as she left I returned to the wonderful wizard world. But I got busted so often my parents took away my books during the night.

The older I got, the more I read. If I was rich, rich as an Oscar-winning actor, I would have a library in my house. I would live in a library maybe. But unfortunately, I am not rich and therefore I must survive with a weekly visit to the local library. A membership card for a year cost me around six dollars, which allows me to borrow ten books per visit and I can use the internet for free. Well maybe it’s not completely free since I paid for a membership. When I arrived in the North Country, I asked immediately where the library was. The best of all is that I didn’t pay for receiving the “golden pass.” I can borrow books for free, but only three at a time. “After three months, you’ll be allowed more books,” said the sweet librarian. Unfortunately I will not be able to experience this little bit of heaven on earth, because by the time I’ve reached my three month membership, I’ll be on another plane, gone to the next adventure.

But three books is better than none, and to be honest, I can use the weekly walk to the library to prevent the weight gain from all the good food. During one of my first visits to the public library I asked the lady for a book. She said the book was not available for the moment but she could put a hold on it. I told her that this was not necessary. Since I am on budget here, I do no want to pay for reserving a book. I did not know then that putting a book on hold is free here. When I want to put a book on hold in Belgium, I must pay 80 cents. So after figuring out that this service is also free, I went back to put a hold on the book. The same friendly lady said, “We do not own the book here, but I can let it come over from another library.” I did not even dare to ask how much that cost because I have a small feeling that it is another free service. I must confess, I love the library system here in the U.S. Soon, I will have my book on hold and I will not take it for granted, because I am thankful for all the work the sweet librarian did.

Melissa Callaert is working as an intern at North Country Public Radio for the Spring 2016 semester.


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