I love being a librarian, did I ever tell you that? Books were such an integral part of my upbringing. Some of my earliest memories are curling up on Grandma’s lap and listening to fairy tales, or walking from my Grandma’s house to our little local library and just ‘being’ there; looking at the books or learning to use the card index (which, sadly, no longer exist in most libraries). My mother got me seriously hooked on mysteries when I was 10 (Nancy Drew, of course!) and I must admit, it is still my favorite genre. And I still remember her (when asked what a word meant) telling me to ‘look it up in the dictionary!”
So what makes libraries so appealing still today? Some might say ‘we have the internet and computers, books are outdated as soon as they are printed!” And to some degree they would be right. Some text books are a good example. But ‘outdated’ doesn’t mean ‘wrong’ – it just means someone has come up with a ‘better’, or ‘more efficient’, or ‘different’ way of doing something, or maybe just a new idea. Do not confuse ‘recent discovery’ with ‘wrong’. And oh by the way, who’s to say the internet is always right?
Books speak to us in a way the internet cannot. A lot of people read for pleasure; but there are different definitions of pleasure. It could be a good murder mystery, an autobiography of a president or sports figure, or how to make smart investments with your hard-earned money. There is something comforting about holding a book in your hand; to settle in and live another life outside your own rather than be bombarded by moving pictures or audio of a dog doing tricks on YouTube, or getting lost down the rabbit holes of the internet that lead you to a completely different place than what you had started searching for. Now please, do not get me wrong – I use Google at least 15 times a day and there are immediate things one can find on the internet (like this website!) but when it’s time to either buckle down for studying or escaping to another’s life for a short period of time, give me a book every time. Computers are a wonderful creation that can help us but we must be careful not to let them define us.
Libraries have a special scent all their own; if laughter, adventure, fear, romance, and knowledge melded into one big powerful scent, that scent would be called ‘library’. To me it is paper mixed with comfort mixed with brain power. For in a library you can travel the world or explore the deepest oceans; you can speed to the stars, learn how the west was really won, or remember what it was like to fall in love for the first time. You can live a thousand lives in books and leave your own life behind if only for a little while. You can sit comfortably alone but never lonely, and get lost in your imagination, or another life, or another world.
So slow down your life; turn off the television and come visit me. Find something that moves you then settle in for the ride; walk a mile in someone else’s shoes or fly away for planets unknown. Take a deep breath of ‘library’ and….