They stand as they have since 1911, one on either side of the main entrance of the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street, the library lions. I don't recall when I first learned of their existence but their marble existence but they captured my imagination at an early age.

They stand as they have since 1911, one on either side of the main entrance of the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street, the library lions. I don't recall when I first learned of their existence but their marble existence but they captured my imagination at an early age.
As a child, I saw photographs of the pair but one of my favorite sights in New York City is the library lions, ranking somewhere between Lady Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge, the 911 Memorial, and Coney Island.
Their names are Patience and Fortitude, so named by Mayor La Guardia in the 1930's. Records indicate the original names were Leo Astor and Leo Lennox after the two founders of the library, John Jacob Astor and Jay Lennox. Later, despite the fact both are male lions, they were also once called Lady Astor and Lord Lennox.  The names Patience and Fortitude have remained now for eight decades.
February is Library Lovers Month so the lions are iconic representatives to me.
I fell in love with libraries early in life.
I don't believe I had started school yet when my mother first took me to our neighborhood branch library, Washington Park Library, in my hometown of St. Joseph, Missouri. I remember the sturdy brick edifice, reminiscent of a school, standing in the center of a block. I recall the quiet hush that surrounded me as I entered and the intoxicating aroma of many books stored under one roof. I haven't had the opportunity to visit Washington Park in many years but I have never forgotten. Some of the books I first read there have remained with me always.
There are several other libraries in my hometown but the other one I know as an old friend is the St. Joseph Public Library main branch located in downtown St. Joe. The building dates to the early 1900's and is classic. One of the floors is made of glass, strong enough to bear the weight of bookshelves, books, and patrons.
When I moved to Neosho, I soon discovered the local library. It was housed in a building on South Jefferson Street at the time and I devoured many books from that location. I remember visiting the library to view some of my earliest magazine publications on display and the subsequent delight at seeing my words in a familiar place.
The local library moved to the present location on West Spring Street soon after I married. I'm always pleased to see a few of my books on their shelves available for checkout and I am very excited about the current expansion project. I covered the ground breaking ceremony, which had to be held inside due to rainy weather, and I have watched the addition take shape over recent months.
I still visit the library but I've also become fond of the online library application, Overdrive, which connects to the Neosho library and many others. Overdrive allows me to check out a steady stream of books for my Kindle and feed my reading addiction.
At one time, I served on the library board and as someone who works with words, libraries remain a favorite place.
It takes patience and fortitude to be a writer of any type so those lions who stand before the New Yor Public Library remain an inspiration to me and always will.
Library Lovers month is an ideal time to visit the local library - wherever you may call home.


Lee Ann Murphy is a staff writer and writes a column for the Neosho Daily News.