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BTT – Libraries

This week’s Booking Through Thursday meme asks us to reflect on our local library:
I saw that National Library week is coming up in April, and that led to some questions. How often do you use your public library and how do you use it? Has the coffeehouse/bookstore replaced the library? Did you go to the library as a child? Do you have any particular memories of the library? Do you like sleek, modern, active libraries or the older, darker, quiet, cozy libraries?

I did go to the library as a child – I would say from pre-school through about 1st grade. I distinctly remember sitting on the floor in the children’s section looking at ALL the picture books trying to decide which ones I would want to take home to re-read. I do not recall using the library much after I learned to read on my own; I do remember saving up my weekly allowance and in about 3 weeks time I had enough to go to the local Sage (a pre-cursor to Target or Walmart in Houston, TX) and buy another in the series of Nancy Drew. My next childhood recollection of using the library was in high school and standing in front of the card catalog trying to find books that would help me in my research projects. I did not use the library for personal reading material at that time.

After college I took a major hiatus from reading. I discovered a love of cooking and poured over cooking magazines as well as cookbooks. I really did not step foot again in the library until I had children of my own. Because I have always loved books — I gravitated toward reading to my children when they were mere infants (I think I started when they were about 6 weeks old). I quickly discovered that I was spending far too much money on children’s books, so as a way to stay within budget, I used the library for their books (although I rarely thought of selecting books for me when we went for our bi-weekly visits).

It really wasn’t until I started teaching 7 years ago that I reacquainted myself with the library – and now I must say that I almost consider it my second home. I usually go to the library a minimum of 2 times a week, not to browse (as I would at the local coffeehouse/bookstore), but rather to pick up books that I have placed on hold from the comfort of my home computer. I rarely stay at the library for any length of time – but I do spend quite a bit of time “browsing” the catalog on the internet.

I have a rather elaborate selection process for adding books to my own personal library. First, I find books that I am interested in reading either from your inspirational book blogs, or from Amazon’s recommendation of “others who bought this book also bought….”. I log onto the library’s website from my home computer and reserve the books. The library notifies me by email when they are available for pick up – and I will then go into the library, pick them up and leave within 5 minutes time. After skimming the books I can tell if this is truly a book that I know I will love and will want to add to my personal collection (in which case it is added to my very lengthy “to buy” list which I carry in my purse at all times) OR it is a book that I know I want to read, but not sure I need to purchase (in which case I will make time to read within the specified 3 week lending period) OR it is a book that I do not think I want to read at the moment (in which case it will be returned to the library on my next visit).

As far as the aesthetic look of a library? I don’t think I have a preference. Most libraries that I frequent are circa 1970s. I think as long as the library is clean, well-maintained, and conducive to a learning environment, I would be comfortable.

10 Comments

  • Matt

    It’s hard to belief you have taken a break from reading.

    I was such a magnet to libraries when I was young. I still remembered that sensation of getting my library card—that felt so privileged and special!

    I love reading my own books at the library these days! 🙂 That said, I’m justified to visit my favorite bookstores almost every other day. But when I need to find out about new authors and reference materials, I turn to the library.

  • Red lady-Bonnie

    I loved the library as a child and posted pictures of my favorite library in my BTT post. I use the online reserve options for my library as well and get my movies from there as well which saves a lot of money.

  • Nicole

    I did a short detour away from reading as well. I had too many competing interests and finally over the last year I just decided to make the time to get back into it. I read way more now that I am blogging.

  • Book Bird Dog

    What would we do without our libraries? I find many of the books I read by browsing through the library, which works, as our excellent library system keeps us all in books, including the best sellers!

  • Jenners

    I’m with you on having to use the library for children’s books … my son checks out books by the pound!

    And I enjoyed reading about your elaborate books purchasing method!

  • Margot

    I enjoyed reading this post about your library history. Very interesting that you gave up your own reading in favor of your children. I was reading to my babies at a very young age also. It’s no surprise they all are book addicts. Good post.

  • Rebecca Reid

    I love libraries. I go almost every day with my young son — especially now that it’s cold and he can’t go outside. I don’t know what I’d do without checking out library books. I can’t afford to buy all of mine!!

  • Anonymous

    i volunteer at my local library once a week teaching ESL…so i’m there all the time. i love my library–it’s in a residential area about a mile from the beach and is a little red cottage. it’s not huge but i can request titles from the major branches and have them sent over.

  • Holly

    I read with my boys when they were babies too. Now they both love books and reading, just like my husband and I do. We love our library. I’d be lost without it.

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