In the last week and a half, I've seen several articles talking about the value of libraries. It started when the author of a now-retracted Forbes article claimed that we'd be better off if Amazon replaced our local libraries. I'm not going to go into the absurdity of that claim, nor will I reiterate the many good arguments I've read since about why our library tax dollars are worth every penny. (I also won't dive into the many beautiful libraries that can be found around the world, but that would be a nice topic for a future date.) Instead, I wanted to reflect on my own experiences with my local libraries and why I love them so much.
- I owe my love of reading (and writing) in part to libraries. The first public library I remember going to as a child had so many interesting books that I wanted to read them all. I didn't come close to doing it, but I was exposed to a variety of books, many of them great and even classics, and many which I never would have read if not for the library.
- Nowadays, I read one or two books a week. From a purely financial perspective, if not for the library, I'd be broke just from buying books.
- There is no longer a bookstore near where I live. The Barnes & Noble and Borders that used to be in my town closed down years ago. Where does a book lover go to immerse himself in books or to see what the latest releases are if there are no bookstores? The library, of course!
- I don't go to the library just for paper books. At one point or another, I've checked out e-books, audio books, magazines, DVDs, and CDs. Yes, you can satisfy all of your entertainment needs in one place!
- Libraries also have some handy reference materials that you can read there. Among books I've used in the reference section are encyclopedias, study prep books, job aids, and stock guides.
- There have been times when I used the internet at the library when my connection at home wasn't working or wasn't available (back in the days before wi-fi routers). And our library has better wi-fi than Starbucks.
- The library is a quiet place for working, studying, or just relaxing. What other public place can you hang out for hours where the people around you are also quietly working?
- When my kids were younger, we had a family tradition of going to the library every Saturday morning. Sometimes there was story time. Sometimes, the library provided other kid-friendly programs. Even when nothing special was going on, my kids borrowed lots of books and DVDs during their childhood.
- Our library has a summer reading program where you can earn prizes just for reading. Getting rewarded for reading? Sign me up!
- A public library that I used to go to held book sales. I could buy paperbacks for a quarter and hardcover books for a dollar. Those sales have definitely contributed to my current book collection. :-)
- This may be unique to my local library, but it's located next to a large park. There's a room with floor-to-ceiling windows that faces the park, and if I want to relax, I can sit in one of the chairs that face out toward the trees and grass and watch the ducks and geese as I read. There aren't many better ways to spend a weekend morning than that.
The best part is, all of the things I mentioned above are free! So why aren't you taking advantage of your local library?