Paying Homage to Public Libraries

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Some reasons why the Library can be your happy place too.

National Library Week starts next week, so I wanted to be sure to pay tribute to all of the many libraries that have played a role my life. I can still remember the day I was finally old enough to get my own library card. To be honest I think I was more excited about that than I was about getting a driver's license. Books have always been my constant and libraries have always felt like my second home and sanctuary. 

I'm always surprised when people confess that they have never been to their local library, that they don't even know where it is. I suppose I was lucky. My parents have always been big readers so a weekly trip to the library was part of my childhood. I can't imagine a world without libraries, although, I know there has been a big push for "digital libraries." I also know that there have been major funding cuts to libraries throughout the United States. 

I'm hoping that if I share why I love the library so much and why I go there more than I go to the grocery store, that maybe you too will make more of an effort to make that weekly visit part of your life. Maybe just maybe by our sheer presence we can make a difference for our libraries.

The Library is the Best Free Education You Will Ever Get

Did you know that author Ray Bradbury's formal education ended with high school? He graduated during the Great Depression, had no money, and couldn't afford to attend a college or a university. Instead, he went to his local library three days a week for ten years to read all of the books they had.

Today, the cost of tuition is still too much for too many and I'm not sure how successful you will be without a degree in today's world, but the fact remains that there is a wealth of knowledge just waiting for you at your local library. I know, I know, these days you can learn just about anything you want online, but I'm telling you now that you can learn more about the human condition and about how people operate from a novel than you can from a classroom or from a Google search. 

"Here was one place where I could find out who I was and what I was going to become. And that was the public library." - Jerzy Kosinski

Three Words: Library Book Sales

If you are a book lover then this event is what a secret sample sale is to a New York fashionista,. . . paradise. I live in the best place ever in that I have access to multiple counties' library systems. That includes the amazing book sales that they host every year. 

My shelves are full of twenty-five cent paperbacks and hardcovers that cost only a dollar. I'm not just talking about old releases either. Last summer when everyone was going crazy about The Girl on the Train, I scored a hardcover, barely-used copy for a dollar. Win!

Something for Everyone

Your library has more than just books. Chances are that it also has events you can add to your social calendar. You may be able to drag the littles to a Storytime or two. Participate in a Summer Reading Program. Join the book club. Go to a film screening. What are you waiting for?! Go now to your library's website and take a look at their calendar! 

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." E.B. White

Sanctuary Where the Religious & Non-Religious Coexist

There is something that is both really weird and funny about the state in which I reside. The overwhelming majority of the population identifies as Mormon (LDS), but they attempt to create a larger sense of community by having activities that they think are "neighborhood" activities. 

The funny part is that all of the neighborhood activities I have attended seem to have a religious spin and I have yet to meet someone participating who isn't already part of the LDS congregation. Look, I applaud the effort, I really do because so many of us long for a sense of community in a world where we can talk to anyone, yet still feel so disconnected. The issue is that those who do not believe may not feel entirely welcome coming as they are. 

The library can help bring together communities with the many events I mentioned before, but it's also a place that is neutral-ground. In the library you can find inspired works by all walks of life. You can experience some much needed silence from the outside world. To be honest, I've never found greater solace and been more at peace than I was while walking the rows of books found in a library. 

Why do you love your local library?

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