I believe in libraries. They are an irreplaceable resource for a community. No, we have not passed them by with our technology, as the naysayers predicted. In fact, especially now, with the expansion of types of media, the libraries have become even more relevant. Books on paper, CD, DVD, Playaway, or in the cloud—when we changed how we get
our information, libraries expanded right along with us. They added in public computers that allowed Internet access back before most homes had a personal computer. They made shared music available back when recorded music was both expensive and fragile. They also had the foresight not to abandon the original written word. Some things you just can’t learn by watching a YouTube video.
I know I don’t need to justify libraries here. I know this audience knows the value of free, shared information and the safe space to explore it. I know that everyone reading this appreciates the superiority of a librarian over a search engine.
As an added bonus, libraries help support the minimalist way of life, as well. There’s no reason for us each to have our own hoard of the classics when we can depend on our library to hold those for all of us. We don’t all need to buy a copy of that short-lived best seller if we can take turns reading the copy at the library. We don’t need to panic about that wonderful book being out of print, since it’s very likely to be preserved there in our trusty library collection.
Unfortunately, I have a small problem with libraries—that whole thing about returning books on time just seems to overcome me. It doesn’t matter that you don’t even have to go to the library to renew your books. Yes, I have the ability to just click online, and I do. I almost got it right this time. I remembered their due date only one day after they were due. But one can’t be renewed.
Yes, therefore, I’m going to the library this afternoon to return several books and pay the ever-mounting overdue fees on one.
I also can’t claim that this is a new thing or a one-time thing for me. Even back when the kids were young and we were at the library at least weekly there would be books that hid until they were overdue.
Once, when we had gone to a new branch of the library, my sweet little 4 year old asked me
at the checkout, “Mommy, is the kind of bookstore where you pay when you take the books or when you bring them back?”
But we always bring them back.
And pay the fines. It’s a small price that supports a priceless part of our lives.
If you’ve not been in a library lately, go check it out. It will probably not be exactly what you think it is.