Monday, November 4, 2013

Giving thanks for... libraries

I love libraries. I love bookstores too - I guess I should really say I love any place I can be surrounded by books. But I particularly love libraries. Partly, it's all the good memories I associate with libraries. When I was a kid, our local library sponsored summer read-a-thons and I remember going around the library, collecting a huge stack of books that I could barely carry. One of the local libraries had a room with a sunken floor with big pillows and I could spend hours in there. In college, the library was the one place I could study and not have to worry about being distracted.

I also love that I can spend hours in a library looking through random books and I don't have to feel guilty that I'm not buying anything. I used to buy books all the time - I also have a weakness for used bookstores - but I've tried to stop because I realized that with most books, I only read them once and then they just collect dust. Every time I moved (and I used to move about once a year), I would go through my bookshelves and purge, donating to the library of course. Now the only books I actually own are either work-related or real favorites that I do read over and over again. If there's a book that I want to read, but am not sure whether it will be a 'read over and over' kind of book, I try to find it at the library first.

With the rise of electronic books, I've heard people say that libraries will soon become unnecessary or obsolete. But libraries are more than just collections of books, they are about providing people with access to knowledge. They encourage people (especially kids) to read but also provide public services like internet access, programs for English learners and summer or after-school activities for kids. Personally, I can't imagine that print books will be completely replaced by ebooks in my lifetime, but even if they are, libraries still have a vital role to play in the community. 

When was the last time you visited a library?

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