How a public library set me free

“My parents and two older brothers arrived in Queens from Cuba in 1967, squeezing into a one-bedroom apartment that got even more cramped when I showed up two years later. Suspicious of everyone and unable to communicate in English, my parents weren’t about to let their kids roam unsupervised in the streets of their graffiti-strewn city. And since they both worked, we boys spent a lot of time at home making the best of our crowded quarters. School provided a welcome change of scenery, but that, too, was a somewhat constricting environment in which I was relegated to an uncomfortable chair in an overcrowded room for hours at a time. The main public library on Merrick Boulevard was the first place I was allowed to visit on my own. I started going when I was 8. Everything I needed was located on what seemed to me an endless single floor. Wandering around that building aimlessly on a Saturday afternoon offered a sense of freedom I’d never experienced before.” (via The Washington Post)

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