“The library card is a passport to wonders and miracles, glimpses into other lives, religions, experiences, the hopes and dreams and strivings of ALL human beings, and it is this passport that opens our eyes and hearts to the world beyond our front doors, that is one of our best hopes against tyranny, xenophobia, hopelessness, despair, anarchy, and ignorance.”
The library has always been known as the quiet place, the hub and mecca for book lovers and learners. But it’s changed over the years. Librarian’s no longer tell you to “ssh” so people can read quietly or maybe write that novel (assuming you found the energy to change out of your pyjamas and face the world of course) you will hear a background noise of singing when an activity like the ‘bumps and babies’ group are on.
“Bad libraries build collections, good libraries build services, great libraries build communities.
–R. David Lankes”
But you can’t criticise, this is their way of making the library more of a community hub, some of them are actually in community centres and share the building. The library in the town I live close to- Bridgend in South Wales- was moved from a perfect location in the town centre to a community centre just outside and now when you’re sitting there trying to read or write in the quiet (or study, sorry students) you’ll hear the sounds of laughter from the swimming pool next door.
I still want the library to be a haven, a place of peace and quiet you can go to but honestly when was the last time I visited my library? When was the last time you visited yours?
When I got my library card, that’s when my life began.
–Rita Mae Brown
I used to visit the library every Saturday morning when I was a child and teen. I’d come home with an arm full of books, alway reading around five at once. I loved it. I have a lot to thank the library for I found a lot of favourite authors there. And I feel guilty that I don’t go there anymore.
When I started working my Saturdays were no longer free and I miss the routine. But it’s only the last few years I’ve stopped visiting the library. Completely stopped.
It’s probably a lot to do with not being patient, in this world of quick delivery and instant downloads. But when you have a day off you want a book to read that day, but when you can’t find anything in the library you have to wait for one to be ordered. I bought a Kindle for the instant book, a way to get free classics and save space.
But eventually I starting using the Kindle a bit less and decided that I preferred a book in my hand. My Kindle is great for ARCs and discounted ebooks and free classics. And fitting in my bag. But I still preferred buying actual physical books. But I have so many books that going to the library instead of reading the books I own seemed like a bad idea. It’s good if I want to read a book and don’t want to add another to the shelves but then I’ve gone to order one and it’s missing/lost. After this happens quite a few times I give up and end up buying the books instead.
I often think about going back, this is why I wrote this post but working more means reading less and it might take a while to finish a book, I could exceed the number of renewals and have to go to the library but then maybe won’t have time, possibly. Time to read and time to go to the library, that’s what it all comes down to in the end. Do I have time? I have a stack of books to read and reading library books will not reduce the stack.
The walk down is enough of an incentive, to get out of the house and get some fresh air. I will be moving soon but I’ll have the choice of a library almost on my doorstep or a longer walk (not too long) to the library I’ve gone to for years.
Writing this post I do miss my library and I wonder maybe I could make the effort. Order a book I keep meaning to read. After all if we don’t use them we could lose them. The library was so important to me as a child, I wonder how many children still use them today? Not just for the computers or the fun activities they host but to go home with an armful of books, an armful of different worlds and ideas.
“A library is a good place to go when you feel unhappy, for there, in a book, you may find encouragement and comfort. A library is a good place to go when you feel bewildered or undecided, for there, in a book, you may have your question answered. Books are good company, in sad times and happy times, for books are people – people who have managed to stay alive by hiding between the covers of a book.”
[Letters of Note; Troy (MI, USA) Public Library, 1971]”
― E.B. White
If me going to the library keeps it open that’s good. But will one book make a difference? I need to get reading, reduce that to be read pile and visit my library again.
Do you visit your local library?