Earlier this month, Michael Rosenblum posted this article on Huffington Post about the new library being built in his neighborhood. He then goes on to muse about why it’s being built, and whether it’s necessary. His thoughts all smack of privilege to me, but the one that really got me was the little tidbit about his niece, wondering why all the kids in Harry Potter have to go to the library to look stuff up instead of just Googling it.
Oh, you poor, poor child. You deprived little thing, you.
Seriously? There are parents who don’t take their kids to the library?
Maybe this is another kind of privilege talking, but my parents took my sister and I to the library on a regular basis. It was a cheaper way for us to replenish our reading selections, and I still do this – more often than not, I’ll check a new release out from the library instead of buying it (and if I like it enough to want to re-read it, chances are I’ll end up buying it anyway).
The library these days is about so much more than books. It’s a community hub, a fount of information and resources, and home to some of my favorite people in the world: librarians.
But I’m not going to talk about all the fun and wonderful things you can do at the library today. Today, I’m going to talk about the books in a library.
I use the library on a regular basis. I always have at least one library book at home, waiting to be read, and more and more frequently, there’s a ebook on my Kindle on loan from the library. Whenever I get a new recommendation, my first stop is the library, or rather, the library’s website and their online catalog. If they have it, I’ll put it on hold. If they don’t…well, I’ll check periodically to see if they’ve ordered it, particularly if it’s an author they’ve already got in the catalog.
I used to wander the stacks, looking for new titles, exactly the way I would at a bookstore. The central branch of the Seattle Public Library has displays of books centered around a particular theme, and they’ve got a new releases shelf. I admit I rarely do this anymore. I have far too many books on my own shelves, on hold, or on my Kindle to need to wander around, looking for something new to read.
I do miss it, though. Finding books I hadn’t heard of before, uncovering ones I’d read years ago and forgotten about. It really does feel like wandering through a bookstore, only I don’t have to worry about my budget, just the number of books I can read in a given time period.
Back to Mr. Rosenblum’s niece.
I was telling the BF about the article and expressing my disappointment over his niece’s HP reaction. The BF’s take? It’s not that unusual. Not every parent was as awesome as mine and encouraged my sister and I to read as much as we do. But I figured there have to be some parents out there who still make use of the library.
I started with my own sister. My nephew, on occasion, has been known to ask to go to the library instead of the playground. Considering he’s two, I think this is an excellent sign. I’ve been to the little community library in her neighborhood, and their children’s section has a good selection of picture books. When we got home, he immediately picked up one of the books and had my sister read it to him. Several times. I’m pretty sure the book was about trucks, or cars, or things that go.
There were others. One friend takes her two kids every couple of weeks; another takes his daughter to toddler storytime. And for busy parents, there’s the school library (where, yes, I spent quite a bit of time as a kid).
The library has become so much more than just the place where books live, but to me, it’s always gonna be that place that symbolizes reading, and the love of the printed word. Technology has found space amongst the stacks, but we still need libraries. So I hope you take the time to visit your local library, and show a kid all the great stories hiding in there, waiting to be read.
And for a librarian’s reaction to Mr. Rosenblum’s post, click here.