An Ode to Libraries

An Ode to Libraries

Libraries, guys, libraries are fantastic, wondrous places.

As a kid I remember my mom only allowing me to check out as many books as I could carry, and man I had such a heavy, precarious stack walking out of there each and every time and I loved it. My parents couldn't keep up with how quickly I burned through books, and going to the library was always such an exciting memorable event for me.

As a young adult, post-college, and on a budget I rediscovered the fantastical land of the library. I was pregnant in 2013 and had gotten my first e-reader just a few months prior. However, I was quickly getting annoyed at how expensive books for the e-reader were. For paperback books you can hit up thrift stores or local used bookstores or even Amazon for cheap used books (and believe me, I am ALL about used books: I was raised by an environmentalist, enough said), but there wasn't really a way to get cheaper versions of e-books. Guys, at $8+ a pop that got hard to take pretty quickly.

ANYWAY here I was with my fancy e-reader and unlimited unemployed time and not much money to spare (hello, baby things!)  so I decided to just take a peek at the library's e-book selection. You know what? I was utterly blown away. Pretty much everything I wanted was there, for free, all mine for 21 days! And 21 days is more than enough time for me to read a book. Unless its boring. Ahem.

Soon I was blissfully checking e-books out 5 at a time and placing holds for ones that were currently checked out. By the time I was ready for a new round of books, my holds were usually available. Perfect, painless, easy, glorious, wonderful library. Bless your existence. The platform they use for e-books, Overdrive, is incredibly straightforward and simple to use and I soon realized I could scan the databases for my home library in CA and my local library in WA since I had a card for each, which worked out pretty perfectly, as if one didn't have a particular book, the other usually did. Being able to locate and download a book I wanted in 2 minutes? Fabulous.

So here I am enjoying the hell out of e-books and even popping into the physical local library branch regularly for my trusty paper versions. And just for the record, it is one of the nicer, newer libraries, but I realized they actually had a LOT of cool stuff. Like free museum passes you can check out for a week and go get free admission to all the museums in the city. Who knew you could even do that right? Or a "Lucky Day" shelf where super popular titles are housed, and you're bound to find something you've been hearing about or lusting after.

Once I had a toddler, I quickly realized they run story times on a regular basis, and have this big fantastic kid's area with little tables and chairs and all kinds of play stuff for the kiddos. Plus the obvious benefits of being able to check out endless books for him, so I (and him too haha) never gets bored of what we read each night before bed.

And my god, checking out is such a breeze now, it's just a modern laser scanner and you get a printed receipt with the due date clearly at the top, plus an e-mail reminder right before your materials are due back. Does anyone else remember in the olden days, the loud CLUNK when the book would clear checkout when you lined it up in the corner of the table where the scanner was permanently fixed? Because that was always so satisfying. Or writing down the due date on a post-it note with a pencil and hoping you don't lose it? Or even writing your name on a checkout card and getting it stamped by a librarian? Okay, now I feel old.

But seriously, libraries, why are you so effing cool? I even noticed they had an area where a bunch of teens were hanging out on a couch playing Mario Kart on a flat screen tv after school, and perusing the shelves that lined the little tucked away area while they laughed with their friends. The library also has meet the author nights and various classes as well as a ton of other online content like movies and tv shows. I mean shit, my location is even getting a 3D printer for people to use for free!

I can't wait to to do the summer reading program this coming summer with Ev, but for now the library is one of our top rainy day destinations. Libraries are such fun, relaxing places and the rows and rows of books always hold such magic for me, all these untold pages of potential just waiting to be discovered. It breaks my heart that people overlook libraries, that they just click and send books from Amazon or don't bother to read at all. I wish so badly that libraries would be seen as the wonderful, wonderful places that they are again and really appreciated for everything they provide.

Michaela DevineComment