Sunday, February 7, 2016

Lover of Libraries

Why I love libraries and everything they stand for

I'm actually writing this from my local library which is arguably my second favorite place in my entire town after my own house.  I'm in the Teen section which is kind of like a weird limbo land half way into the quiet part of the library which can be intimidating--I feel like every time I try to open my bag people are watching like hawks to make sure I don't make too much noise--and half way into the Kids' section where kids screaming and parents sighing is the norm.

But no matter where you are in a library, one thing is the same.  You're surrounded by books!  Books!  I guess it probably comes as no surprise that a book worm like me loves any building completely packed to the brim with kids books, classic books, informational books, and especially (and particularly) Tolkien books.

book, reading, learningLiterally every time I enter a library, I have a routine.  I walk first to the nonfiction section labelled "literature" where they keep nonfiction books about books.  I check to make sure the History of Middle-earth is still there and sometimes I'm surprised to find another book like Understanding The Lord of the Rings: The Best of Tolkien Criticism or Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit by Corey Olsen (who just happens to be my favorite pod-caster.  When I walk to the library--it's about an hour--I always have one of his recordings playing.  Today it was The Silmarillion Seminar 17).  Then I walk to the fiction section and check to see if any new Tolkien books have come in.

I usually keep mental inventory of what books are in in the event that if someone checks it out, I will know there are other Tolkien fans at my library.  It hasn't happened yet, but I'm not giving up hope.

Not only am I surrounded by books (which is the ideal situation) but I'm surrounded by people who love books!  (For the most part.)

Aside from the couple of people who come to the library to watch TV on their iPads with headphones (why?) and adults who decide to hold business meetings right in the center of the building (completely out loud as I try to read!), most people at the library genuinely care for the books and people around them.  Those are my kind of citizens!

Libraries are under appreciated.  Just think of the magic of an entire community pitching in with their tax dollars (okay some are unwilling, but they do it anyway!) to build a place where people can come to sit down and read books.  Everyone around contributes to have a collection of books available to the general public!  I can't think of a better example of a community coming together to do something great.

Now if only libraries allowed me to bring my tea in!  Apparently they're afraid I will spill tea on their books!  (Okay that is kind of a logical fear...some of my own books do have tea stains in them...)
cup, mug, water

Another great thing about libraries is the smell.  That distinct aroma of old paper mixed with the librarians' coffee (I guess they can bring their drinks!  I guess they deserve it though--librarians are awesome.)  When you get a new book and you just open the pages and inhale that scent.  (It's not weird I promise.  All book lovers do it...right?)  And you think of all the hands that have held that book and realize two things.  First, you might want to disinfect your hands, and second, that this book may have been around longer than you.  It may have lived through so many more years than you, witnessed history, been held by captivated readers, maybe even a famous person.  And now this book has fallen into your hands to be read and enjoyed--or disliked--by you.

 When you find the perfect little nook in the library and just plant yourself there--do not disturb for the next three hours as I will be reading!  Or maybe you're the restless type of library lover--ever moving about the shelves getting a neck cramp from tilting your head to read book titles.   Or maybe you just sit down and spread out all your work and just study in the quiet.

The quiet!  What a break from the constant noise and din of the day!  When you enter a library, it's like you've put on sound proof headphones and are listening to the sweetest piece of music.  Quiet.  When you can actually hear things.  Actually think about things.  

The rush when you check out a new book!  And you tuck it into your bag and just think of your favorite reading spot the whole way home.  You consider how the story will sound when you read it somewhere else.  And of course when the library closes (tears!) you can keep the book overnight (and by overnight I mean staying up until midnight unable to close the book).

It's like you get to take a tiny piece of the library with you when you go home.

But nothing beats the bittersweet feeling of returning a book.  There's that sense of accomplishment and new found knowledge--hey, if anyone happens to mention Le Mort d'Arthur casually in passing, I can strike up a conversation with them now that I've read it!--and that sense of parting.  The thoughts that run through your head: but...what if I have to get a quote?  Or reference a page number?  I need the book!  And then a deep breath.  Don't worry.  That's what bookstores are for.

blur, old, antique


  1. This was so nice... I haven't been to a library in so long! I need to go again soon.

    I love that book smell! You're not the only one! XD

    1. Oh, good. I was worried it was just me :D

  2. Thank you for writing this, because I, too, feel that libraries are quite underrated. I visit the library once or twice a week. It's like a second home. :)

    Have you ever left a note in a library book? I've been wanting to for a while, but I can't decide what to write...

    Good post!

    1. That's such a good idea! Hmm...but what to write?