Posted in Life, Thoughts

Libraries

Libraries really are wonderful. Better than bookshops, even. I mean bookshops make a profit on selling you books, but libraries just sit there lending you books quietly out of the goodness of their hearts. – Jo Walton

In any library in the world, I am at home, unselfconscious, still and absorbed. – Germaine Greer

I went to the library today. And I got way too many books.

Neither of these circumstances is uncommon in my life. I love libraries and I love books and I have for as long as I can remember.

Recently (…ish. It’s been several years, I suppose, though I’m not sure how many), the library I go to the most started putting little notes at the bottom of the receipts telling you how much you would have spent buying everything you checked out. Here’s mine from today:

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This is one of the reasons I love libraries. I might get an occasional fine because I’m forgetful, but compared to what I would spend buying all these things new, it’s nothing. If I hate a book or a movie or a CD, it doesn’t matter; I can just return it and move on with my life. And maybe someone else will discover it and love it. This lets me explore all sorts of things I would never pay for without knowing anything about them.

Another reason I love libraries is something I have been realizing more now that I’m old enough to travel on my own. Several times when I have been somewhere with time to kill and nowhere to go, I have found the nearest library on the GPS and gone there.

Unfamiliar libraries are wonderful. No one cares that you have never been there before and might never be back. You don’t need to feel guilty if you don’t buy anything. You can browse the shelves or crash in a comfortable chair with a book of your own or a library book for hours or (often) use a computer or wi-fi and it’s perfectly fine. Not just that – it’s expected and welcomed.

This fact (plus the delicious scent of books) gives libraries, even strange ones, such a homey feel. I love it. I’m so glad libraries exist.

How can you be nervous? Don’t you see? We’re in a library. – From The False Princess by Eilis O’Neal

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4 thoughts on “Libraries

  1. You’ve loved libraries since before were a toddler and called it “the ‘berry.” Now I feel like singing…”I’m goin’ down to the library, pickin’ out a book, check it in, check it out.”

  2. I feel the same way. I don’t think I could have raised my family without it. I look at library fines as a way of supporting my local library. I have supported it well. There are few better feelings than leaving the library with too many books. They are rich with new possibilities! One of my favorite childhood stories is from Thimble Summer, where the girls get locked in the library at night.

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