As a child, I met one of my significant mentors in the library. Miss Helen Charles was head librarian of the branch near our home. For whatever reason, the quiet, shy girl and the tall, white-haired, no-nonsense woman clicked. Until her death, when she was in her late 80s, we were friends.
But she was also an important life guide. She introduced me to books and subjects I might not have found on my own. And, through historical novels, she let the young teen see a glimpse of sex that -- trust me -- I would not have known through other sources.
I spent long summer hours in the cool, dark library, and Miss Charles was by my side, opening the world to me. When I graduated from college, I sent her an invitation to the ceremony with an acknowledgment that she played an enormous role in getting me to that point.
With e-books sales now overtaking the old-fashioned ones at Amazon, will we lose the magic of libraries and the counsel of women like Miss Charles? With e-books and budget cuts,I suspect we've begun to live the loss already.