Sunday, July 14, 2013

In Praise of the Library

Who else loves the library? Go on, raise your hand.

Some of my warmest childhood memories revolve around the impatience involved in waiting to go to the library on Saturday. (This was in Dayton, Ohio, eons ago.) The anticipation, the waiting, were sheer torture. All the books from last week were long read and re-read. I agonized because they were my friends but I'd have to slip them through that ominous 'return' slot in the front desk. My mind was in turmoil, trying to decide what to read next. No wonder I bit my fingernails!

Does anybody else remember the feeling of walking through those doors? The smell of dusty books yet unread, the hush even more reverential than that of a church? The excitement of story time? Don't even get me started on the Bookmobile. Man, I loved it, and still do.



Library? you scoff. I haven't been inside a library since, well, I can't remember when. Isn't that the stinky place where all the homeless people go to cool down in the summer, or warm up in the winter?



Ahh, you're one of those who think the library is just for kids and blue-haired book club members who drive Buicks and wear SAS shoes to check out the large-print editions.

Dude.

Join us in the 21st century.

Even the libraries nearest to our slice of Redneck Paradise have modern facilities like broadband internet access through desktop computers and Wi-Fi; inter-library loans; ebook lending; newspapers; magazines; DVDs and, dare I say it, audio books! (I'm a total junkie when it comes to audio books. No point denying it. I'll follow you anywhere for a good audio book.) And yes, even in East Texas libraries have electricity and indoor plumbing, just to enhance your overall visiting experience.


Seriously, there's nothing like a library. A bookstore comes close, but it's missing the whole frisson of 'free', 'due date', and 'late charge'. And while bookstore clerks are helpful - if you can find a bookstore anymore - the library ladies remember your name, have the scoop on new arrivals, and if you ask nicely, will hold one of your favorites until you can run by to grab it. Bliss!

(And no, I'm not being sexist because in my libraries, then and now, the librarians are all ladies.)

Doubt that this much glory can exist in one place? Stop by your local library and check it out. I'll bet it, too, has a great selection of current fiction and non-fiction, along with nice library ladies who will help you discover a host of other services.

Yes, I am a writer, and yes, I'm pimping my books like mad, hoping you'll buy them. So why would I encourage you to visit the library? Well, where do you think I got hooked? I still love checking out books from the library, but I also spend the GNP of a small nation on physical books, ebooks, and audio books.

Like all the best drug dealers say, "The first one's free, little girl."

What's your fondest memory of the library?

(If you're in Panola County, stop by the new location of the Sammy Brown Library at 319 South Market Street in Carthage. For their website, click here.)


photo credit: Super Furry Librarian via photopin cc
photo credit: ciro@tokyo via photopin cc

12 comments:

  1. What a great post, Gae-Lynn! The library in my southern hometown was in the basement of the Town Hall. A grey old lady manned the hole. Most kids were scared to go down there. But I loved it and its keeper! I still love the smell of books. I, too, kept a novel hidden in my desk, daydreamed and bit my nails! Maybe nail biting was the result of a guilty conscience! Maybe the lifelong love of books is a writer/dreamer thing.

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    1. What a hoot that your library was in a basement and a scary lady was in charge! That probably would keep most kids away - but how atmospheric!

      There's something magical about the library, even now that I'm an adult. And I think you're right that the whole love of books is a dreamer thing, because that's what we do when we read, isn't it?

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  2. Great post.For me my childhood library was a place to escape from a lonely world into one of fantasy and fiction brought to life by amazing story tellers.Even now just the smell of books brings the memory of make believe flooding back into my soul.

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    1. That's lovely, Annette, and still so powerful. Glad you stopped by, and happy reading to you!

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  3. I love the library so much that I titled my next book, 'The Library'. When I saw the library that I wrote about in my novel, I just had to share it with my avid-reading friends. I hope I brought some of my love to readers who may not have experienced the library as I did via sites and smells. I didn't have a choice but to get my books at the library when I was young; I couldn't afford books. Now...I can afford them, but I still love to hang out at the library...because nothing smells quite like a library. Thanks for the awesome post. :)

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  4. I home school my youngest and we visit our local library at least once a week. It's a great place to find supplemental materials and really comes in handy when searching for just the right book to write a report.

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    1. You know, I'll bet you're building a love of reading and the library in your kids. That's an amazing gift, and one that they'll enjoy for the rest of their lives!

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  5. I was first introduced to Andre Norton, Robert Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, Howard, Lovecraft, Burroughs, Doyle and many many others at public libraries all over California and Colorado (I lived in a trailer house as a child and we lacked room for lots of books). I am still a big library user -- the copies of Miami Purity and Florida Gothic Stories by Vicki Hendricks I just read came from the library, and I just picked up Kiss Me, Deadly, The Fever and 86d by Dan Fante at my local branch this afternoon. My wife is a big library user and so is my son. Libraries, like national parks, are one of the greatest inventions ever. . .

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    1. So glad to meet a fellow traveler, William. Something in your post reminded me about how my husband checked out records - real live records, back in the day - from the library to learn from them. Pretty cool.

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  6. I love any place with a large collection of books. I love sitting and feeling all those stories taking place behind closed covers, just waiting for me to jump into their world. I love the enormity of possible goings on, most of which I will never experience. I love that my books are now a part of the multitude of stories that line the shelves.

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  7. This is a great post!

    I fondly remember our library. It was in a mammoth old building that was positively cavernous! Row after row of books and so many rooms to get lost in. Then there were the reading tables.

    I loved going there and perusing the offerings. I had my library card and would check out one or two a week. The habit of reading has stayed with me and I feel sorry for anyone who has not discovered the joy found in a good book!

    Hooray for our libraries and the librarians who keep them them running!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Wendy - it's been far too long since we've 'seen' each other. With your love for writing, I'm not surprised you love the library as much as I do! Hope all is well in your world!

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