I remember when it happened. The day I fell out of love with the library.
I was 24 and living in a sad little apartment in my small town. I was in the throws of, what I call now, my listless years. I was broke, bored and lonely, which is a terrible combo when you live in a town of less than 3,000.
I grabbed my card and walked the couple blocks to the library. I wandered around the few shelves that contained adult fiction for at least 30 minutes, and I had the sinking feeling that I had read everything on the shelves I wanted to read. I left there, book-less, and did not step back inside for years.
I have so many fond memories of the library growing up. I lived on a bustling farm, so we did not get to town much and when we did it was the hardware and feed stores. But Mom always took us the the library, every week, like clockwork. This was the case through all of my school years, until I got my driver’s license, then I took Mom to the library.
When the talk on the interwebs started in ernest about how some cities and states were cutting funding for libraries, I decided it was time to put up or shut up. You see, I have been spouting off the importance of libraries to anyone that would listen, but I had not been in my town’s library for 7 years.
I dug out my library card and jumped back into the system with both feet. The library had changed a bit over the years: a new floor plan, updated fixtures, an expanded children’s and young adult section and they have also joined forces with other libraries in the area so patrons can get access to a wider variety of titles.
But in many ways it has not changed at all. The same to lovely ladies are still behind the desk and they were thrilled to see me back again. The hours are still poor and the selection of titles on-hand is still small. The lack of books by or about people of color or LGBTQ is embarrassingly nonexistent.
My relationship with the library is much more complicated now than it once was. In a world where I can get pretty much any book delivered to my house within a couple of days, being wait-listed is excruciating. And I some days find myself racing down the highway to make it to the library before it closes. But once a week (at least), I walk up the stairs. I chat with the librarians and try to do my part in keeping libraries alive and thriving.