In Love With Libraries
At Boomer Connections, we are big believers in rediscovery and the new appreciation of things we may have come to take for granted as we soldiered on. I am rediscovering and deeply appreciating….libraries.
What a world that has libraries in it! That you can avail yourself of so many books, so much information. For FREE! When you think about it, libraries are such a gift – there is hardly a better example of your tax dollars at really good work.
My appreciation for libraries runs deep. As a kid growing up in rural Pennsylvania, on a farm, I did not have many playmates close by. Reading opened up the world for me, and I was a voracious reader. The problem was access. I read all the books I could get my hands on in the house and eventually that supply ran out. I hoarded the paperbacks my college-aged sisters left behind. No, I probably should not have been reading Valley of the Dolls and The Exorcist and Jaws at age 10 or so. Or that whole Rabbit series by John Updike, which made me ponder: Is this what marriage is like? Is this how grown-ups really behave? Yikes. It was an education all right.
Our town had no library, and a very limited library in the school, and in summer those options were suspended. But then….thanks to some kind of grant, our county library system started offering a mail order book loan program to the outlying communities. Every month I would get a catalog of the books available, send the postcard back with my selections, and in a few days would get a package with 3-4 books. FREE! And then I sent them back, postage paid, and waited for the next round. I still remember this new access to books as one of the highlights of my childhood. I can still remember the glee and sense of anticipation every time one of those packages arrived. And I have never stopped being grateful.
When I go into a library these days I still experience anticipation and glee. I hardly know where to go first. Magazines and newspapers—so many, I haven’t even heard of them all. New releases—fiction and non-fiction books, I want to read them all! So many books, so little time. CDs? My library is always getting new ones, plus they have a whole section of travel CDs filled with ideas of where to take our next big adventure. Yes, I know that so much of all of this is online, but when you go to a library, and can see it all in front of you, like a kid in a candy store….it is just a different experience.
We are especially blessed here in Henrico County, Virginia. The new libraries built in our area are palatial. We have access to, not only all the books and media resources, but banks of computers, special quiet rooms, meeting and conference facilities, kids and teens areas, recording studio capabilities, digital media lab, and classrooms with more computers, where you can take all sorts of instructional coursework. This is where I learned about the Excel, PowerPoint, and Publisher programs for my computer, and did I mention… FREE!
There is also a community room where groups can meet or outside entities can come and teach classes. Most recently I learned how to plant a backyard garden, courtesy of our County Extension office, and we students each went home with a dear little plant!
When I look at all the offerings within our county library system (10 branches), it is an array of riches: Storytime for little ones, Poetry Slam competition for teens, book clubs. Just at my branch, I see that the art museum is coming in to teach kids how to make silkscreened t-shirts, and 4th-6th graders are learning to make “BugBots” and go on a “Robot Rampage”—apparently from a popular book series. Preschoolers are experimenting with movement and music, and learning about Chinese New Year.
One of the other branches is offering a screening of the movie Apollo 13, geared to young people, courtesy of the NASA@My Library Initiative, where NASA seeks to “engage public audiences nationwide in informal and lifelong learning with the excitement of NASA exploration and discovery.” Good work NASA!
We have a mobile library that goes out to retirement communities and childcare centers. And the Book Sale! Each of the branches host book sales, where you can buy books for a few dollars. There is something to be said for being able to get books cheap and be able to read them at your leisure and not worry if you get sand in them at the beach.
The libraries in the county also offer an Author’s Showcase, where published or self-published authors can come in and discuss and promote their books.
And Seniors, a whole selection of offerings just for you: Various different book club discussion groups (including Austen Fest: Pride and Prejudice! How cool is that?), special computer classes, and health-related talks. You will also find there a quote for the day, which this day was: “It’s always too early to quit” — thank you, Norman Vincent Peale.
But the best thing EVER is a recent discovery for me. I took a class on it! It is called Overdrive, and it is the library’s digital lending system. I can’t even express how thrilling this is. I can request books, which are delivered via my Kindle app, so I can read them on my Kindle device or even my PHONE! Or I can get audio versions and listen to them through my phone while I am doing other things, like driving 5 hours each way to Pennsylvania every month to see my 91-year old mom. These are lent out just like hard copies, with a due date, so they will disappear from your device at that point. And you can place holds.
Sometimes I want to be entertained while I drive—I just listened to the book What Alice Forgot by one of my current favorite authors Liane Moriarty. And sometimes I want to be educated—also recently listened to Talk Like TED by Carmine Gallo, where I learned about speaking techniques from the masters. Every time I put those earphones on, I thank the Henrico County Public Library.
Seriously folks, the next time you are in the library, thank a librarian! Or become a Friend of the Library.
We are so lucky.