It was a big deal, getting my first library card. I was about seven and could just sign my name, sort of. My ugly scrawl wasn’t good enough for the library card, and embarrassed, I knew it. I treasured the card anyway.
Dad took me to the little library every week on Tuesday or Wednesday for many, many years. I always had a stack of things to pick up. Some of them were icky, smelly books, but I saw stories inside them. I had to go the library every week. And when a closer branch opened up, I said I’d never go to that library because it wasn’t my library…
Fast-forward to the present. I only go to the library if I absolutely have to (late materials and items to pick up), and I just stop by the closest branch (yeah, that one I said I’d never go to). One reason is the local libraries are very small, and I read far fewer books per month than I used to. Also, Overdrive and Project Gutenberg now cover most of the books I read, plus those sites cut down the wait time significantly. I can also afford to buy new books anytime, too, which up till recent years was hardly possible. Nevertheless, I sort of miss going to the library every week and probably should get back into it.
Something I have started in the last couple of years is buying second-hand books… a hybrid of the above options, I guess. At Value Village (aka Savers), I scour the shelves for gently used, cast-off college assignments. There’s also a local bookstore, which, in spite of its not-too-subtle political agenda, has a pretty decent selection of used classics. It’s an exercise in self-control, and fortunately I have limited space at home. I enjoy just browsing, in any case, because there’s the element of surprise that I might stumble upon a gold mine.
Do you have any bookish or reading rituals in your life?
This made me smile. First, my father introduced me to the library and books when I was young. He and I went often to the little local library, a hole in the wall, and the great Brooklyn Public Library, which covered an entire block and had an elevator! We even visited the NY Public Library w/ the famous lions, though I do not believe I borrowed any books from that library. Anyway, my dad is my inspiration for libraries and books. Today, like you, I buy most of my books used, even find favorites at the library used book sales. But I mostly take my kids to the library ever two weeks to check out books, so it is mostly for them.
That's wonderful, Ruth! I would so love to go to one of those big libraries… just to stand there and take it all in. 🙂 It's great you're continuing the library trip tradition with your kids. There's so much they can learn about responsibility just from taking care of the books and participating in the sharing system. I love those library sales, too!