I used to enjoy browsing the stacks, looking for a good novel to read. Maybe a cookbook to peruse. I marked time by the three-week library loan period. And if a new book came out that I wanted to read, I put my name on the Reserve list and waited weeks or months for the library to call me, telling me I could come pick it up.
Of course, I used the library for research as well. For school assignments or personal interests. Looking through the index to find articles I could read, scrolling through a microfiche on one of those big noisy machines, or asking a librarian to retrieve a particular copy of a magazine from long ago. There was no such thing as Googling back then.
As a mother, I made good use of the library. I took my kids, and later my grandkids, to pick out their own picture books or interesting science books. As a two-year old, one of my boys chose his books based on color. “I want geen books,” he would say. So we would search the stacks for green spines. More than once I was cautioned by the circulation desk that I was checking out more than fifty books. Of course, I was borrowing books for the children and myself at the time. We read lots of stories every night. I certainly couldn’t afford to buy all the books my family required. So I’ve always loved the library.
Things have changed now. I don’t spend time in the stacks anymore, perusing titles, scanning book flaps. I go to the library website, search for the books I’m interested in, place a request for the book and wait for an email to alert me my books are in. If a new book comes out, I add my name to the waiting list – sometimes behind a couple hundred other readers.
I’ve also learned to borrow ebooks from the library. Interesting how that works. A couple of clicks, and the book is on my Kindle. When the loan period is up, I’m prompted to buy it from Amazon if I haven’t finished reading it. And they’ve got audio books I sometimes borrow as well. They’re great on trips. Even just driving around town.
I still visit the library regularly. I just don’t spend as much time inside. But I’m so thankful libraries exist and that they have evolved to keep up with the times. Heck, I now check out my own books when I pick them up. I swipe my card. I swipe the books, and presto – I’m outta there.
Hopefully one day my novels will be available in the library.
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