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I Heart Libraries

September 24, 2009


Some of my earliest memories include going to the library.  We have always been a library-going family and I have many fond memories of the various libraries I’ve frequented during my lifetime.  Some are very vague memories of specific children’s sections along with child-sized furniture and some are clear memories.  The library that I spent many of my formative years at was housed in a very cool, old building.  You had to mount stone steps to get inside and then you had to descend to the basement to get to the children’s section.  But the children’s section was wonderful because it had a huge climbing structure that was formed from cubes of pipe (or similar) with huge pillows on the bottom for cozying in and reading.  The whole basement was dedicated to children’s books and pleasure; it even had a fish tank.  On the main floor, there were huge oak card catalogs.  No computerized systems yet.  You had to pull out the drawer, rifle through the cards and then head off to look for your book.  This library was determined to be too costly to maintain, being housed in such an old building, so the city gutted and remodeled the old Sears building and opened a sparkly new library, which,  of course, lacked the charm of the old one.  The new one was easier to navigate and since it was in a former department store, it was all open.  You could look from one side of the library, way over to the other side.  Not too long after it opened, we moved to another place, a much larger city.

During my teen years, I spent lots of time at a specific branch of our city library system.  I fondly remember searching computer archives for references and magazine articles with mention of The Cure.  Remember the old days when information wasn’t available at your fingertips all the time?  If you wanted to see a picture of Robert Smith, you had to work for it.  You couldnt’ just Google him and then look at the available images.  No Wikipedia.  Just a basic search program and teenage determination.

These days we go to the library even more frequently that I did growing up.  We take advantage of more programs and I would venture to say that more programs are offered by most libraries than 20 years ago.  I still read a lot; that’s never changed, but most of our library usage is for the girls.  We always have more than 50 items out at a time.  We read for pleasure, for homeschool assignments, check out DVD’s, audio books and sometimes just drop in to hang out and play on the computer.   My two younger children have been regular story-time attendees and though we took a long break from that, with J. getting older, I’ve made a commitment to get there weekly again, though it means getting out of the house before 10:00, which is difficult for us.

We have saved so much money using our library and though we live in a small-ish community, we are part of a regional library system, so we can borrow materials from any library in the system with 18 participating.  The library is paid for using tax dollars, and to my knowledge, much of it comes from city property taxes.  However, if we lived out of the city limits and had to pay the $60/year fee, I would do it in a heartbeat, because we save hundreds of dollars and gain much more than monetary value.

The strangest thing is that many people forget that they have such a wonderful resource available to them!  I’ve talked to quite a few people who have said things like, “Oh, the library.  I haven’t ever used my local library” or “I forgot about the library, I never go there.  I should see if they have that book.”  And this comes from educated, literate people.  They’re reading things; they’re just purchasing them.  So, if you haven’t checked out your local library, plan a visit soon.  It might make reading easier on your pocket book and you may be pleasantly surprised by what you find there!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Mom permalink
    September 24, 2009 8:01 pm

    I have always loved libraries. Part of our formative years were spent at Ghost Ranch Presbyterian Conference Center. Even though it is not a large place, they had a small libary. A wonderful woman named Miss Henry used to come to New Mexico for the summer from somewhere back east to be the summer librarian. That is what she did for a living back east. So since she also spent her summers that way you can tell how much she must have loved it. As a child, I just took it all for granted. As an adult, I wish I knew more about her. We always loved going to the library in the summer to be welcomed by her as much as for the books. We have a library very close to us. Sorry to say, we don’t use it much. Mostly because I can’t stand the atmosphere in it. As much as I like libraries, I just am very uncomfortable being in this one.

  2. Jana permalink
    September 26, 2009 7:47 am

    Libraries are one of my favorite places, although I am pretty fond of bookstores with coffee shops in them.

    I have built up quite a collection of books through Friends of the Library. Cheap great finds.

    My children have always enjoyed story time and other activities sponsored at the library. Now we have smallish libraries which have their own charm to be sure but those big city libraries have amazing things to offer. I suppose I envy city folks that.

    I love that I don’t have to pay for everything I want to read or explore. I have something waiting for me right now at the library. Who knows what else I will leave with?

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