All the recent #layoffs reminded me of the anxious years I spent as a #H4bride. It was a different time, but the vulnerability to abrupt dismissal was the same.
The first thing that truly converted me into an “American” was this – the Fremont Main Library. I had always been an avid compulsive reader, and had found enough to feed the habit from the library at DSOI (Defense Services Officers Club), and second hand books I could purchase from Connaught Place footpath vendors, but both these sources had limitations in quantity available and accessibility. Lacking decent catalogs, both were hit or miss in terms of choice.
The idea that a slim plastic card could give me unlimited access to the entire contents of this building reconciled me to a lot of other adjustments. There was no limit on the number of books, magazines and even VHS tapes I could borrow, and it was all beautifully arranged on clean shelves. What’s more, there were tucked away nooks and crannies with comfortable sofas and armchairs where I could curl up and read for hours. If I couldn’t find a particular book, I just had to mention it to the librarian, and voila, a few days later I would be informed it had been set aside for me.
The catalog wasn’t online as it is now, but in huge drawers with physical catalog cards which were a vast improvement over anything I had previously encountered, even the professional academic library at MAMC. In fact the Fremont library had quite a lot of academic reference material as well along with computers and printers which you could easily reserve over the course of the week.
I know that now all this seems trivial, but for a lonely disconnected woman, who had abruptly left all the known comforts and freedoms of job and home, this felt like opulent luxury. I typed up my statement of purpose here, my first resume, looked up colleges and studied for exams. This was real affluence, I felt, where all these books were freely available to everyone who lived here. For the first time America really impressed me.