Sunday, October 16, 2011

Library Angst

     I have a problem, I must confess. I am a book-buying addict. I do not use my local library. I did not even use my local library when I lived in a big city that had a nicer one.  I am trying to get better and am starting a rehabilitation program for myself. I don't really know anyone who goes to the library regularly, except for my best friend who has been a library fan as long as I've known her. If there are other people going to the library out there they are not speaking of it. If you have gotten in the habit of only going to bookstores and accumulating more and more books, I offer these thoughts to you as well. It is not satisfactory to give up physical books (ebooks just seem to be less memorable), but my book shelves are filling rapidly. It's a small step, but I hope it helps.

1) Accept that you may need to amend your "look for" list.  I hope some of you who read this live in cities with big thriving libraries. If you do, you may be able to find most books that you are looking for when they are relatively new. But if you live in a small town like me, you're not going to be finding that new release that you've been wanting. In fact, unless you're a fan of Christian fiction or Nora Roberts you may initially see nothing of interest. However, if you take time to comb the shelves thoroughly you may be pleasantly surprised to find some really cool things. I'm finding that it helps to go in without an agenda.
(Disclaimer: I'm actually a big fan of a good Nora Roberts book from time to time, so no offense).

Similar to my local library
2) Borrowing books is not the same as buying them. This seems obvious, but I was struck by the difference on my last library trip. I weighed all of my choices super carefully, as if I was buying them. I ended up bringing home three books that looked good at the time but lost their luster after I took them home. And here's the ridiculous part, I felt a little guilty!  I read one of them in a day, but I had no desire to read the other two. It took my husband's reassurance that it was fine to return them unread to finally make me feel better. "Return them today if you want," he said, so cavalier in his library ease. When you buy books you make sure they are ones that you are going to read because you are spending money on them, and they are becoming part of your permanent collection. The library offers you a great opportunity to flirt with authors you might not want to commit to, no strings attached.

Similar to what I wish was my local library
3) The library is free. I feel compelled to buy something every time I go to a bookstore, especially small independent ones. That is, after all, why they exist. As much as the owner or employees may love books, they are part of commerce and they only exist as long as people buy things from them. That's why, sadly, my town's small used book store also has tanning beds. It's why the big chain bookstores have covered up their book displays at the entrance with Nook or Kindle kiosks. They have to be "trendy" to stay in business and I would certainly rather them do that than go out of business. First of all, I'm in no way saying that I won't still be supporting these places. I love bookstores.  I could build entire vacations around book shopping. But I'm also charmed by the fact that the library has none of these enticements. They exist to promote reading and information. They offer story time for kids and a surprisingly good youth selection even at my small library. You can sit in a chair, read for hours, and no one expects you to buy a single thing. These are all wonderful things that we should make a point of supporting in our technology driven society.  Now if they only had coffee available............

1 comment:

  1. need to write more and let me know how you like living in Alabama and on the farm!