Mt. Airy resident Maggie Wollman, a frequent contributor to the Local and voracious reader, is never disappointed with the books she takes out at Lovett Library. “If the book doesn’t grab me,” she explains, “I use my speed-reading skills to move along quickly. Every book is an introduction into a different world. I don’t need a boat, plane or rocket to travel, just skillful writers.”

by Maggie Wollman

I’ve written before about my feelings on the importance of the public library. Growing up in the Bronx, after-school activities were jump rope, stoop ball and going to the library. While the library was across a wide street, it was only two blocks from my apartment, a nothing trip for a New Yorker.

When my husband and I bought our house in Mt. Airy many years ago, part of the attraction was the proximity to the library, supermarket and the State Store. All three assets remain.

I am a reader with an agenda. I do not browse the shelves but have a list of books culled from newspaper book reviews, the New York Times Book Review, obituaries and recommendations from friends. These I reserve on the library computer. Some time later, be it days, a week or a month, I receive a telephone call. A deep male voice says, “Mar-jor-ie Woll-man.”

I don’t have to listen to the rest. It is the library telling me my book is at Lovett. It’s with excitement that I stand at the library turnstile and look for my book, conspicuous because on its spine is a label with the first four letters of my last name.

I can immediately judge how many pages: 250, 400, 500. Will it take days or a week to read? Since I don’t remember what I reserved, I’m excited. Will it be a novel, a biography or memoir, a travel or food book or a mystery, or an author I’ve never met but who promises to give me the inside scoop on working in a hotel or restaurant or insight into a business or organization?

The anticipation is real. What’s ahead for me this next week? I’m never disappointed. If the book doesn’t grab me, I use my speed-reading skills to move along quickly. Every book is an introduction into a different world. I don’t need a boat, plane or rocket to travel, just skillful writers.

I recently enjoyed reading about the monumental task of building Rockefeller Center and the fabulous character who ran United Fruit.

With books costing $20 or more, I’d be spending over $1,000 a year for books which, once read, I don’t care to keep. Simply by paying my taxes, I have the opportunity to read any book published because if the Philadelphia library system doesn’t shelve the book I want, it will contact other systems and universities for me. I don’t know any organization more accommodating . . . when it’s open.

Maggie Wollman is a long-time resident of Mt. Airy and a member of the Lovett Library Writers Group.