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've always loved libraries, from the first time I was taken to our local public library branch, as a child back in San Antonio, Texas. I wrote about that experience in an earlier BTT post (here), so I won't go into a lot of detail, but I always loved going there. And I still like the experience of going to the library. In recent years, my library visits have fallen off quite a bit. I don't have access to a university library, and our local public library was in the process of building and moving into new quarters; and for a while their fiction collection was nothing to get excited about. As a result, I fell into the habit of simply buying the books I wanted to read. Recently, though, I stopped by again, and found that the local branch has improved enormously since its early days. So I've started up my regular visits again, and it feels really nice.
How do I use the library and how often? Well, I usually go whenever I have books to return – in most instances, that would be every two or three weeks. And I almost always have something definite in mind to look for when I go; but at the same time, I almost always do a little browsing, too. Especially among the "new arrivals." And I'm lucky that our local library system has a good online operation – I can renew online, search the catalogue, request books online and have them held for me. I haven't actually used that service yet, but I can see it saving me a lot of time and frustration, down the line.
So, my answer to that last question would be a definite YES. I like sleek, modern, active, and old, quiet, cozy libraries. I like actual libraries and I like virtual libraries (including sites like the Gutenberg Project or Good Reads or LibraryThing). I like just about all libraries. I think libraries are one of the most astounding and valuable inventions of human kind. I believe civilization cannot survive without its libraries. If I could go back in time, I'd go to ancient Alexandria, before the Library was destroyed, and take a look at the great collections there – maybe have a chat with one of the librarians (I'd take along my handy-dandy Acme Dead Languages Translation Device, of course).