Saturday, February 20, 2016

Ode to libraries

Some of my earliest memories are from the library in my hometown.

I vaguely remember when it was in the corner shop behind the water tower in the center of town. The front door opened at the corner of a rectangular building. If you turned right when you exited, you were in the alley behind the Methodist Church (though we weren't yet Methodists).

I remember when the new library was opened just a few blocks away and it was so big! and modern! I remember running out of kids' books and being underwhelmed with the YA books, so my mom signed to allow me to go upstairs and check out whatever I wanted from the adult section upstairs.

We joked with the librarians about how the city made a sign for the back parking lot, announcing the lot was "Soley" for library patrons. Hooray for literacy!

I read everything. Not everything in the library, because it was bigger than that, but especially on vacations, I would check out eight books a week and read them all. I didn't own a lot of books, but I had a library card.

It wasn't a great spot to research things, especially as papers got harder in high school, but it was a college town, so I could get what I needed from the university libraries. I can't remember if I got a special card through the library or used my dad's ID or something?

It expanded when I was in college, maybe just after. And now, they've opened a new library, which I am looking forward to seeing when I visit Ohio in the summer.

Library tourism.

Today, though, I walked over to my current public library, where I volunteer for the Friends of the Library, sorting books donated and pulled from the library collections. We sell some in the back of the library and box up the rest for the big annual book sale.

We've recently joined the county-wide effort to pull out the books that might be worth more than a buck and if they're worth $10 or more on Amazon Marketplace, we bundle them off to the central Friends, who list them and give us some of the proceeds. We could do it ourselves, but it's a lot of work and we don't have that many volunteers.

I love the library. It's in a strip mall and though they expanded it and updated it a few years ago, it's pretty underwhelming. We're supposed to get a new one in the next couple of years. They promised it before the recession and have now finally got around to working with an architect.

I try to not rack up the fines and pay them fairly quickly. Having the system online for requesting and renewing has been a huge boon for me!

Nowadays, I have several shelves of books at home, but am mostly buying on my Nook. It's not the same, no, but much more convenient. I don't often buy them new from a bookstore and don't buy as many used ones from the library. Except at the annual book sale, where I always end up with at least a huge box full, though some of those have been homeschool books.

I have about ten books checked out right now, not all of which I'm going to get around to reading. Plus five more for homeschool (most of those are on my son's card, but sometimes I end up with them on mine).

I have few books that I donate back. Maybe that's why I give an hour or so every week.

Public libraries make me happy. I love books. I also love that they have computers and other resources there. And librarians who can answer questions, no matter how odd.

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