10 Reasons I Love Libraries
Blog :Somewhere I Belong... the path to finding me
Date: 12/24/2011 3:38:37 PM
I have loved libraries for as long as I can remember. I have loved books even longer than that. There’s just something about the way a library is structured – architecturally and internally – that draws me to them, the sights and smell. Ah! The smell of a thousand books waiting to be read…
I’ve been to my fair share of new cities, and the first place I seek out is the local library (or, God forbid, if there isn’t one close enough, the closest bookstore). I’ve carried a library card far more often than I have an ID card!
- It’s FREE – You join for free and you get to take books out for free! You pay nothing – well, perhaps you do, by way of tax, but that’s different. You have access to a multitude of books and they exist solely for your pleasure! They are just sitting on shelves, waiting to be picked up!! All they want is some indulgence from you, and your time to enjoy what they have to offer
- The collection – Where else would you find a physical collection of the written or spoken word? Yes, of course the internet, but that’s not physical. I mean a collection of books, magazines, music and movies that you can actually touch and feel. You have literature, anthologies, biographies, newspapers, magazines, CD’s, DVD’s, from all walks of life in a variety of languages, in different colors, shapes and sizes. It’s heaven. The knowledge that awaits you is incredible and it never ceases to amaze me that all of it is so readily available for the taking. I have Milton, Chaucer, Dostoevsky at arm’s length, I may study evolution with Darwin, look into the vast unknown of space through Galileo’s eyes, indulge in 19th century feminism, read of the politics of the Romans, take over countries and establish empires, find my roots, learn history… yes, and get carried away
- Architecture – If you’ve noticed, most of the largest libraries are housed in grand buildings that provide an architectural landmark to the place they are situated in. Modern libraries and those that have survived time, all are proof of this notion. I have not been to many ‘modern’ libraries, I shall admit, but am convinced that they are fantastic, just because they are libraries. But the older ones, the large stone structures with the gargoyles and marble staircases, immediately put me at ease. I could just stare at the facade of a library and be content, knowing that when they were constructed it was done with religious precision. The sole purpose of having these buildings, apart from temples, was serve as a depository of knowledge that could be accessed by those who seek it. If you look closely enough, these buildings speak of that commitment.
- Information – I’ll admit it isn’t as easy as clicking on a link online, but it’s all there. You’ll almost never arrive at a ‘red link’ that gives you an HTTP 404 error If you don’t find it, it means you didn’t look enough. There is something quite satiating in knowing that you did all of the researching work, instead of having Google tell you which page you need to go look at first! Besides, if there’s something you can’t find, you can actually interact with librarians, who are experts at finding things. They’ll lead you in the right direction. There’s human interaction! Besides, if you think you’d rather trust a computer and or or the internet, that’s available too!
- It’s Quiet – When I want my peace of mind, I read. Or I walk by, or just stare at, the lake. While I prefer the comfort of my most comfy chair, I wouldn’t really mind sitting at a library surrounded by books. People respect silence here. You’d here the odd scrape of a chair or the copying machine or the scanner, muffled footsteps, some tapping of the keyboard, a soft giggle, that swish of a crispy sound when books slide against each other when being put back onto or being pulled from a shelf. You may relax. (This may not work for me because I’m fidgety and wouldn’t be able to hold my concentration that long, but a lot of people have told me it works).
- Social – You meet people. Most people that go to a library are readers. They appreciate stories and writing, that’s why they’re there. No book is uninteresting, except maybe the 150-page romance novels, which, in their defense, provide someone an excuse for reading, even if it does not contribute to the mind’s natural thirst for knowledge. I’d wager that at some point, each person that has been in a library, has had a conversation about books with a stranger they just met. Be it a book he’s holding that you’ve read, or vice-versa, or a book you both are reaching for. You’re socializing. It may be a moment of interaction, but it serves for conversation and provides food for thought. You make and receive recommendations. You may or may not take it seriously, but you do consider it. That’s social interaction for you, in a library. (I once had a very entertaining conversation about gardening with a lady, who had an acre large garden, while waiting in the check-out line at the library.) There are also book clubs that you can sign up for at your library!
- Literary events – Remember going to reading sessions and story-time at a book store when you were a kid? That’s an event. An author stopping by to talk about his or her work, literary and cultural events… libraries. I’ve met 3 authors at library events. I found out about one of these events on an elevator ride down four floors, from fiction to check-out. I’ve been to book signing events at libraries. I’ve spoken with fellows readers, and been connected to others. Then there are the several writing contests that are hosted. According to season, or some special event. I submitted a bunch as a kid, and few as an adult. Who knows, you may meet your favorite author there, or you might end up becoming one!
- Book sales – I love old books. They have this wonderful musty, “I’ve been read and I’m old” smell. I like new books too, the fresh crisp pages waiting to be turned. And so I love book sales! They’re definitely used books so don’t necessarily fit into my vision of filling my library with leather bound copies of my favorite writing, but they add to my collection. You’ll find games (a friend bought “It Was a Dark & Stormy Night” at one such sale at a library), magazines, books, CDs and DVDs. If you’re lucky, you’ll find that one book of a certain edition that you always wanted!
- e-Libraries – I’m a bit old fashioned when it comes to books in that I’d rather hold a book in my hand than read it from a device. BUT that does not keep me from purchasing or downloading eBooks, or borrowing books from the library through an app (read Kindle App). I don’t really feel as much of a connection to the story if I read from a screen instead of paper, but that’s just me. I’m tech savvy, but I’ll stick with books. For those of you that would prefer an eReader, then libraries still cater to your reading needs.
- Free Wifi – When coffee shops and grocery stores offer customers free wi-fi, why shouldn’t a library?! Step in and you’re connected. Use it for whatever you will whenever you want.
So there you are. 10 of my reasons why libraries are some of the coolest places on Earth. I’m sure there are many others, but I love words (and consequently books) and I shall advocate libraries.
If it so interests you, check out this post of the 20 of the World’s Most Beautiful Libraries. Below is the library I frequent – complete with the gargoyles, dusty shelves and the wondrous smell of books waiting to be read.
Harold Washington Library Center, Chicago, IL
Filed under: Books, Interesting Stuff, Listen, See, Feel, Reflecting Thoughts Tagged: 10 reasons why I love libraries, books, buildings, chicago, chicago public library, cpl, libraries, library architecture, people, reading, words, world's most beautiful libraries