As a kid, the library was a place of adventure. It made me feel overwhelmed with joy, as so many stories were just waiting to be discovered. When my velcro running shoes squeaked along the gymnasium like floors or school carpet, a smile was guaranteed to spread across my face. I had an unlimited amount of time in a space where opportunities never ended, because when each story finished, it was as easy as flipping to page one and starting over again.
Don’t just associate the library with studying
The library is where I developed my love of reading. There was no limit as to how many books I could take home and I had the power of saying yes to the best stories with a swipe of my library card. Being in this public space not only made me feel secure, but it also made me feel powerful.
The smell of the well-read picture books, the sound of story-time on the old carpet and the soft whispers of employees, students and book lovers using their indoor voices as they hunt for their next plot twist. I loved and looked forward to all of it. Hearing the words, “We’re walking to the library!” were more exciting than, “We’re going shopping!”
In time, that changed, as it does when you begin to lose sight of things as simple as story-time. Libraries are soon associated with studying for dreadful midterms and exams worth 80% of your final grade.
Bookstores are like Pumpkin Spiced Lattes. How do you say no?
Then, there comes the fascination with the bookstore. The crisp, clean, new, trendy bookstore where a woman named Heather has tables on tables of her best “picks.” There’s less adventure and more of a financial commitment to bookstores, but their fancy hardwood floors and shiny book covers are hard to ignore. Plus, there’s the smell of a lit lilac candle in the air, along with a freshly brewed cup of coffee. There are no loud, group study tables, but there are fancy coffee shop chairs and the most recent issue of every magazine imaginable.
Being in a bookstore is like living permanently in autumn – the kind of autumn that is found at the end of September and beginning of October, right before the temperature drops into the negatives. Bookstores are like Pumpkin Spiced Lattes. How do you say no?
The library is a necessity when money is running low!
In school and university, I developed an obsession with buying new books (I mean, we’ve all been there – they’re just so easy to buy!) Having just purchased my first home, I don’t have the disposable income I used to for purchasing new, shiny, hardcover, beautiful books that I get to keep forever (my heart is broken, but it’s mending). Of course, purchasing books on my e-reader is always an option but there’s something so joyous about holding a physical book between my two hands.
I’ve fallen back in love with going to the library, basically because I have had to. It’s been worth it though. I swear!
There are differences
Rekindling my love for the library has made me come to terms with what I was missing. Not only is the library free (if you return your books on time), but choosing a book requires so much more thought. There isn’t a table with “TOP READS FOR 2015” written in a neon sign. Instead, the “featured” books are connected to the community of people at the library – like a city or town’s upcoming literary awards.
There are books, mostly old but somewhat new, that patrons can flip through for hours before taking them home. There’s this sense of joy when putting your newly picked up library books in your book bag and walking home – just waiting for the adventures to begin. Plus, when you finish the book, there’s a sense of accomplishment, especially when the story has been completed before the due date!
Libraries are communities
Books aside, libraries act as community centres for people from all walks of life. They offer presentations on professional development, health and wellness lessons, DIY-craft workshops and more. In short, libraries help us keep up with interests, hobbies and current affairs. You can order any text to a library and borrow it at your convenience. The options are limitless!
Skills learned at the library – reading included – can help people find jobs. Free Internet access in the library can help people search for jobs. It allows people to focus on a specific job in a quiet, neutral space away from home.
Still, so many of us overlook the library for the more fancy, lilac-smelling things in life. The reality is, though, if we don’t use our libraries, we’ll lose them. A library’s service is judged on how many people use the space and how many items are borrowed. If less people use the library, there will be fewer and fewer.
Join me. Fall in love with the library again. Though sometimes stuffy, libraries have so many stories to tell. If we avoid these public spaces, we are not giving them a chance at survival (literally). You never know what you can find in a library unless you look. You will never be able to look if you don’t fall back in love with the place that once held the key to your imagination.
Sometimes, turning your back on an old friend is necessary. In this case, coming back to the library is nothing of which to be weary.