My Library Lover

A friend read this title and thought I had written a piece about meeting a Tinder date at a library and having illicit sex between the stacks of books. What the hell? I wish! would never do that!

No, what I did do is go get my library card at my Portugal village’s public library, and that was just as exciting for me — a library lover since kindergarten. Our library is badass, too. It offers a diverse range of programming and even has a branch on the beach. Just when I thought I couldn’t love my new home more.

A book, a beverage, and a background track of ocean waves.

Applying for the card was simple. The main library, a relatively contemporary glass-front structure, is across a narrow cobblestone road from the salon I use. Before my mani/pedi appointment, I decided to stop by the library. I’d brought my Portugal resident card, my U.S. passport, a water bill with my local address, and a certificate of residency signed by the village mayor. A woman behind the counter, who didn’t speak English, gave me an application form to complete. She looked at the water bill and residency certificate, and then took my resident card to photocopy. After I signed the completed application, she signed it, typed some information into a computer, then asked me to check my phone for an email with my electronic library card. The “card” is a QR code. That’s it. I was thrilled.

Biblioteca Municipal
Source: Google Maps

Then the woman walked from behind the counter, leaving another employee to handle customers, and said she’d give me a tour of the library. I told her, “Posso voltar mais tarde porque tenho uma consulta agora.” (I can return later because I have an appointment now.) She nodded but continued to lead me away from the main entrance.

Her face lit up as she smiled for the first time and presented with a flourish the racks of “jornais e revistas do mundo” (newspapers and magazines of the world). She quickened her pace as she moved me along to another section, where she stopped, spread open her arms, and beamed as she looked at me. “E aqui, aqui estão os CDs de livros e música.” CDs of books and music. “Vamos!” (let’s go), she gushed as she, like a show mom proudly presenting her child prodigy to talent judges, presented racks of literature, nonfiction, research materials, teen and children’s books, and more. “Espera” (wait), she gasped, circling back to shelves of poetry books. She kneeled to the bottom shelf, pulled out two worn books, and handed the dusty-looking hardbacks to me with a grin. She opened one of the books and pointed to a page spread, grinning wider. Both books contained poems written in Portuguese and English.

Source: Google Maps

I was so struck by this woman’s love of and pride in her library. I didn’t have time then to peruse the shelves for books to check out. My nail appointment was in two minutes. But I couldn’t bring myself to just say goodbye to this library lover and walk out of her beloved repository of knowledge and ideas empty-handed, leaving her with only a promise to return. (“Gotta go, Babe. I’ll call you. I will. I promise.”)

I took the two poetry books and a book for Portuguese people learning English to the front desk and checked them out using my newly issued QR code. My tour guide/librarian/library lover nodded and smiled as I thanked her for her help and rushed to the door. “Até breve!” She called after me. See you soon. And she will.

Read-alouds on the terrace with my neighbor.

Thank you, again, to Brian, whose recent post on libraries reminds us that this week is National Library Week in the U.S. Here’s to library lovers around the world.

The Hot Goddess

Instagram: retired_rewired_inspired

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  1. Oh I love this post Hot Goddess! What a great experience. Smart move by you in taking out the two books the librarian suggested. Glad to see that her demeanor changed. Sounds like you made a new friend. Btw, a branch on the beach, yes, I think I’ve fallen in love with your hometown! 😎😎😎😎

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I looove this! I was visualizing her flourishes as I was reading! She sounds lime a wonderful person to bring flowers to!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh, I can’t say how much I loved the first paragraph. I wish too… 🙂

    And the rest of the post was also wonderful. Whew – of all the steps of getting acclimatized to a new place, this is one I wouldn’t have thought of but is so meaningful. So fun and lovely! Congratulations, Natalie! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Wynne! ❤️ I love that you loved the first paragraph! Yes! 😄
      I don’t know why it took me six months to go to the library. I love libraries and found this one my third day here. I thought I’d need my resident card, which I got last month. While nothing is as critical as receiving the all-important card of residency, getting my library card certainly was so meaningful to me.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Such a great story Natalie! I’m such a nerd I thought I never thought you’d be rolling between the pages in a library but I do know the inspiring writer in you would reignite for me the romance of walking through the library and discovering something good to get lost in like I would in college. I would Read until my eyes grew heavy in the oversized chair on the 10th floor and snooze before my next class. You always take me places with your words – both with you and in my mind!

    Liked by 1 person

    • What a wonderful comment, Laureen! ❤️ I can see that oversized chair and feel the wonder of getting lost between the pages of a special book. Magical memories. Thank you, my friend!


  5. After reading the first paragraph, I visualized the stacks suddenly falling over like dominos at a “critical” moment. 🤣

    Yay! Fellow library lover here…don’t know what I would do without a library. I mostly borrow books digitally, through the Libby app. I even paid $120 for a year’s membership to a large library (Toronto Public) as a non-resident so I could gain access to more books, faster.


    Liked by 1 person

    • LOL! That is exactly what would happen to me in that scenario.😄
      I love the Libby app and use it for all my English-language reading. The company that developed Libby is based in my hometown, and my son used to work there. Libby has been a lifesaver here in Portugal. ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Your intro! 😂 Might make an engaging story. 🤔😁 Anyway, back to the actual story… the library! A wonderful post about a place that means so much to many of us. Like you, I’ve been a long-time library lover too. Actually spent some time at one today. Research and writing. 😊 Happy reading, Natalie! It’s a pleasure to read you. 💗

    Liked by 1 person

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