I have always maintained that the library is the best deal around. The post office is right up there too. How else can you send a letter anywhere in the US for $0.44 and where else can you borrow a stack of books for $0. I have frequented libraries as long as I can remember.
I distinctly remember the excitement of applying for my very first plain white PLCMC library card (with my name on it) so that I could check out mounds of those tiny Beatrice Potter stories. I can remember the smell, sitting on the floor and filling up my canvas bag, and eventually making my way around the entire building (it was quite small) as I and my tastes grew. One of my fondest memories is of my elementary school librarian Ms.M who would recommend books for me and ask me about the stories that I’d read. I may be inflating but I think I may have read just about everything in that one-room gold mine. It is where I first discovered the Little House series (I still walk by and smile fondly at the box set I got one Christmas), where Judy Blume and Beverly Clearly told me about growing up, and where I escaped through fantastic tales. I have had this same excitement and awe as I’ve frequented university libraries both for pleasure reading, for research, and late night study.
Even though I frequent the library I’ve always maintained the desire to own books, they are crisp, clean, and snuggle-in-bed ready. This may be an artifact of my terrible allergies. I still sneeze and have itching fits after schlepping through the stacks with my booty. The past few years I’ve noticed that the library can be a sort of pain. I am always getting those ‘books due’ reminders and ‘can not renew’ reminders. As I usually select a stack of books, it is difficult to get those read and mixed in with my own in the 2 weeks allotted. I’m running more frequently into a different problem, often times the library does not have what I’m looking for. They have all of the newest sensational books and many copies at that. Older books, multicultural books, and some social studies non-fiction they don’t have. Is it because of the demand, is it the topic? I always thought of the library as a well of varied information but it seems that it’s becoming more and more of a bestseller distributor (and we know that I steer clear of that list). There are most likely financial issues that factor here.
I recall reading of others’ experiencing these same frustrations. Or course reading bell hooks, paule marshall, and maya angelou they had trouble finding books written by black authors and by women.
I’ve dreamed of becoming a librarian and helping young kids discover a love of reading (in high school I volunteered in the children’s department) but really, maybe it’s not that I want to work, shelve books, or work in collections, I want to spend my day reading surrounded by stacks of books.