this nybooks article got me to thinking about the role of the library in my life over the years. when i was a kid there were multiple trips to the library each week. we were beneficiaries of what i can recall as a solid library system. now, i don’t know how true that was/is, but the library certainly held a place of reverence in our home and i could count on it being open pretty much every day of the week. this was how a cash strapped kid got his bicycling, transworld snowboarding and BMX bike magazine fix. if there were research projects for school i could count on the availability of newspaper archives on microfiche (remember microfiche?) and i could get articles on that crappy waxy paper for $0.25.
through the 90s i used the library less and less as i made enough money to start buying those books that interested me and worked up close and personally with this new thing, the internet. books have always been that impulse purchase weakness for me and disposable income shifted to spend at amazon, BN, borders, etc.. the library faded into the background and wasn’t something that remained a fixture in my life. there was lurking sense of pride that we could have these facilities available for the public but i didn’t feel a need to draw upon. further i had this, likely incorrect and still lurking, impression that the library wasn’t current enough for my tastes.
i didn’t really start to pay attention to the library again until i met kathy and was exposed to the fickle nature and attention span of kids. spending money on books simply to have them tossed aside when there was no longer any interest or to read and complete a book within the time span of 15 minutes (never to be read again) was an obvious waste of money. the library seemed like the obvious solution to the kids book(s) dilemma.
we live in an area with a phenomenal neighborhood library. it’s a building that evokes all of those nostalgic feelings one associates with the library in movies. it’s modest in size but there’s a cozy kids book section, nice reading areas and a surprising range of book selection. i particularly love the travel book section there. throw in the free wifi and it’s a great place to kill an afternoon. that is, if i had idle afternoons to kill.
we’ve been lucky, our library’s only closed on mondays and sundays and the hours are pretty good. but i do find myself wondering if we should be more ardent in our support of the library. there are neighborhoods where the utilization is high and the community support isn’t as strong and/or the community as effectively organized. these will be the recipients of deep cuts.
clearly it’s time to dust up the friends of the library membership.