Some people might think it’s odd that I love reading but don’t own any books. Some might ask, “Why don’t you at least own your favorites?” Eight years ago, I donated all my books to the library and started using the library exclusively for my reading material. I had amassed so many books that they took up tons of room to store, and moving with them was a real chore. The great majority of my books I didn’t read twice, and some of them I had never read at all (the ones I got as gifts that didn’t interest me). I figured it made more sense to donate them to the library so everybody could get use of them and so I could be freed of dozens of possessions I really didn’t need or get any value out of owning. Nowadays, if I can’t find something at the library, I will request it through an interlibrary loan. If I’m unable to get it that way, I will buy it at a discount, read it, and then donate it to the library. A few weeks ago, my mother and I went to a used book store and bought several books. We have no intentions of keeping them. We will either donate them to the library or sell them back to the used book store. I feel like the library is a great, often untapped resource for community members that many people forget about once their school days are over. Are there any other lovers of books out there who feel the same way about owning books?
Has anybody else been feeling the poignancy of the temporary loss of libraries in their life? The ones in my area have been closed for almost a month now, without notice. It was with heavy heart that I placed my last set of borrowed books in the return slot outside, not knowing when it would re-open.
Walking into a library (or writing about one, I’m now finding) never fails to lift my spirits. My mom instilled in me a love for reading since before I even learned how to read, and my great uncle took my younger sister and I to the library, as children, on a weekly basis to check out books, read the paper, read articles on microfiche, and attend (free) classical music concerts.
Many people only picture books when they think about a library. Libraries are about so much more than just books, although those do happen to be some of my favorite things in this world (at least, the kind you can hold in your hands with real pages to turn that have that “classic book smell”).
But the library is more than a convenience, luxury, or entertainment venue. It’s an essential asset to many members of the community, especially those belonging to vulnerable populations. The library allows access to a safe, warm, quiet environment with a bathroom. It offers internet access so that those without computers or internet access at home, as well as those without a home, can create a resume, apply for jobs, print paper documents, and learn about what’s going on in the world.
Libraries also offer DVD’s, CD’s, board games, and, depending on the library, other items such as work tools and musical instruments for rent. They offer free, fun, educational activities for kids and teens. They offer workshops and classes for adults, such as tax prep, gardening skills, mental health, etc. They offer resources to victims of domestic violence. And yet they are constantly on the front lines facing threats of defunding.
I’m sure I will make it until my library opens back up. I know I have other alternatives available to me, such as ebooks and ordering used books online for delivery. And I am lucky enough to have a warm, safe home, internet access, and even a job, to say nothing of my comparatively great health in a time when so many others are getting sick.
Keep your chins up, fellow library fans! Our precious institutions of old will not be inaccessible to us forever. In conclusion, I will leave some of my favorite library-related quotes for you to enjoy.