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.


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