Aug. 8th, 2016

terribleturnip: (Goat)
Seriously, I sometimes feel as if I'm the only one in my social circle...which is pretty darn big...who has a library card anymore. Or at least the only one who uses it.

When I say to a co-worker, oh, on our way to lunch do you mind if we swing by the library so I can return my books, they look at me as if to say "oh, old woman are you telling your before-time stories again, of faxes and punch cards and libraries?"

Yeah, books, I read them. More than many people -- about 50 - 55 a year (thank you, Goodreads, for that helpful stat). And I have friends who read; most of them less than I do, but still. And they're all "oh, I have my Kindle" or "oh, I like to buy books because it takes me so long to read them" or "I can't be bothered to go to the library" or "wait, what, you can just go in and borrow books?".

Oh, children, I still remember the day I got my first library card in First Grade. It was enormously empowering. Taking home that stack of picture books brings an involuntary smile to my face just remembering it. As if finally, I was a fully participating member of society. And that smell! The musty smell of opportunity -- of more knowledge than I could possibly consume -- although I'd come close, in our small town library, also remembering the day that the children's librarian took my mother aside and said "No, really, she really has read all of them. I know she's really young and we can supervise her choices, but we really need to let her into the adult section."

(In case you think I was some kind of reading machine -- let's all remember that I didn't have many friends when I was younger and decades away from developing the social skills that now make me fun at parties. I had PLENTY of time to read.)

Sadly, most libraries don't smell of old, musty books anymore...the card catalog is no more. But on the other hand, oh my goodness, what a wonderful resource your library is still!

Oh, you like to buy your books -- yeah, me too. But at 50 plus books a year, even if I could get them all for $10...that's $500. And not all of them are going to be worth paying for. And then, you have to store them or give them away or...it's a responsibility you don't need to bear. Just take them back to the library. And get more. Let them store them for you. And pass them along. And recycle them, when it's time.

Did you know -- you can probably get online, get into your library's catalog, find a book you were looking for, reserve it if it's out already or...oh, it's not in your local branch? They will transfer it in for you. Boom.

Oh, but you'll never get them back in time and then the fines, how much are the fines? Yeah, so in my county, you can take them out for 3 weeks at a time. And then they send you an e-mail when they're due. And you can renew online -- several times, if no one's waiting for the book. You can take over two months to read that book. And you'll get a reminder of when you have to bring them back. And you can probably bring them back to any library in your county.

Oh, but your Kindle is so much more...yeah, yeah, I use my Kindle as well. Although it makes me sad that when I enjoy a book but now I can't lend it to you. But still, an e-reader is convenient as all get out. Surprise! Your library probably also loans out e-books. Oh, you only have time to listen to books in the car? You know where this going, right? Yes, my toadlings, they'll hook you up with audiobooks. (Free...it's all expletive free.)

Your computer died, your internet or electricity's down? They'll let you get online there. You'd like to host a monthly (insert hobby/interest) gathering to discuss the thing, but don't want to have it or strangers in your house? They've got space you can use.

And then the information! There are people sitting at a desk, waiting for you to call...like Google but with a brain that won't serve you up twelve resources that are actually all of the same thing. People who will help you find stuff; people who are better at it than you are, likely. And online resources -- libraries often have insane amounts of online resources that are pre-vetted for you and are free. I'm using Rosetta Stone to brush up on my French -- FREE, my tender bitches, with my library card.

Now your library may not have all this much (my county is one of the most expensive to live in, tax-wise, which sucks in many ways, but we do have some boss resources)...but even the library in my hometown of only 5,000 people has got most of this stuff -- and discount passes to area attractions, which is a pretty cool feature. So, if you haven't been there, or even if you do have a library card and you just show up to get books, I'm guessing that you have NO IDEA what's available. Seriously, your tax dollars are paying for all of this cool stuff and you're not using it. That's like paying for cable every month and not turning your television on. Go to your local library's website...check it out!
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