Libraries will get you through

The public library of Rockland, Maine is one of many beautiful libraries that welcome you!

The public library of Rockland, Maine is one of many beautiful libraries that welcome you!

“Libraries will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no libraries.”Anne Herbert

Whenever I am feeling grouchy about paying taxes, I try to think of the wonderful public libraries that have given so much to our family over the years.  I can think of few places that have enriched our lives on so many levels, at no direct cost.  Even before I became a librarian I was bewildered that many people never walk into a library.  It’s unquestionably one of the best bargains around.

The public libraries of today have much, much more to offer than traditional books.  You can now look up all sorts of full text publications, 24/7 from the convenience of home, via research databases that formerly cost hundreds of dollars to access (and unlike a Google search, these databases are pre-screened or peer-reviewed for accuracy and quality).  You can download in seconds the newest audio or e-book bestsellers to play on your iPod or MP3 player.  You can even download free hit music, yours to keep permanently, via an online service called Freegal that is now available in many public libraries. You can check out DVDs of countless movies.  If the titles of your choice in books, music or movies are not available, you can get on a waitlist for them.  For all these services and more, we’ve never paid a cent outside of the taxes we pay whether or not we use the library.

Even if you’re not into books, music or movies, there are other great possibilities at public libraries.  Some are now lending all sorts of non-literary things: hand tools, cake pans, knitting needles, telescopes, fishing poles, home energy meters and other items that can be more practical to share than to own.  There are even libraries that host seed exchanges, where gardeners can “recycle” seeds from their gardens.  You can apply for passports, get documents notarized, hear free concerts and take free classes.  And some larger libraries now have machines that will download from your flash drive a manuscript you’ve written, and turn it into a book! (This particular service, of course, is not free.)

If you are a library fan, thanks for visiting my blog – you are among many like-minded people here!  If  you are not taking advantage of the immense wealth offered in your local library, I hope you will check it out (no pun  intended) and find out how much fun you can have for free.

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45 Comments

  1. Libraries have been my favourite places ever since I was a child. The smell of paper and books in a library are really intoxicating.There’s something so marvellous about running your hands over the book covers and getting immersed in books 🙂

    • I agree completely! I’m very grateful for ebooks and audiobooks, but for me nothing can replace a nice relaxing browse at the library, where I feel literally surrounded by amazing experiences, opportunities and possibilities! I like your blog and wish you the best with the IQR challenge – I highly recommend the books of Jhumpa Lahiri I’ve read all three of her books that I know about, and keep looking for another. Thanks so much for being here!

      • Thank you Julia 🙂
        I’ve read a collection of short stories by Jhumpa Lahiri. I have to read her other books. Another of my favourite authors is Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. She writes so beautifully and I’m sure you’l enjoy her ‘Sister of my Heart’
        🙂

        • Thanks, I will have to read it. Her name sounds so familiar! I wonder whether I read a short story by her at some point. The “Divakaruni” part is not familiar, but the first and middle names are. Thanks for the recommendation and for visiting us here!

  2. Amen, Sister! Coincidentally, I’ve been in this lovely library. We were traveling several years ago and I stopped there to use their computer to check my email. You can tell it was a while ago! But I remember it well.

    • We saw so many beautiful libraries in Maine! It seemed that every little town we went to had a lovely library that was quite impressive for a small town. Thanks for being here!

  3. I believe I said in reply to an earlier post that “libraries are one of my favorite things to do with you!” Neat post…so very true!

    • Carla, I love when you come to visit me because when we go sightseeing you always want to go in the public libraries as much as I do!

  4. Wun time I wint to a liberry. Their were so mini books! i jest stood and tride to reed a reely big book. I had to giv up after a fue ours cause I cudn’t make ani since of it. It was call Under a Brig with Dick an Harry.
    http://www.serageldin.com/ancient_Library.htm

    • I nevur herd of that book but sombody tole me it wuz spozed to be call un a briged dixsionery. Yu spelt it rong. Yu nede to keep on reeding that book.

      • Do not fail to access the link! It is very interesting.

        • Thanks Eric, I did skim it briefly but would like to read more from its author when I have time. In library school we studied the Alexandrian library and I remember feeling very distressed at the thought of its destruction.

      • Sheila

        U 2 hav me laffin….luv th comint! Sheila

        • Sheela this jest goze to pruve peeple frum the South arnt ignoramuses like peeple think we ar.

  5. During my student days I had membership in the Campus, Department, University, Public and British libraries. Most of my free time was spent in one of those serene places. The Public library with its colonial architecture was an enchanting place.
    But I never knew the modern libraries have such facilities. Anyway here we have no public libraries though some book stores are as good and peaceful as libraries.

    • Yes, I love book stores too, and they can be as much fun as the public library. I especially like the ones where there are lots of “nooks and crannies” to sit and read or relax. It will be a shame if the advent of electronic books and online merchants force the eventual closure of the old-fashioned book store. If so, I hope it will not happen in our generation.

  6. Dam strait

  7. Carolyn

    Love libraries, it was a long time before I did a lot of reading but now I love to read. I guess you can say that I have the time now. I start a book and can’t put it down until I have finished. You all have a great day. Love and hugs.

    • Carolyn, what types of books do you like? I read a little bit of everything. Have you read Alexander McCall Smith’s Botswana series? I love it. Thanks for keeping in touch – love to you and Terry from all 3 of us!

  8. Bobby Harris

    Did you realize when you posted this that this is National Library Week? For anyone who loves books, a library is a wonderous place.

    • Bobby, I didn’t realize it, but I probably knew it subconsciously after all those years working as a librarian. The library is indeed a wondrous place, and never more so than in early childhood. That’s why I became a youth services librarian, but before that, took my sons to the library at least 3-4 per week when they were preschoolers. Although I confess I mainly went because I wanted to go myself! Happy National Library Week!

  9. Sheila

    Julia, I love to say, “THEY think we fell off the turnip truck!” Always a smile to make our days brighter. Sheila

    • In 1990 when we first moved to the central coast of California, one professional who worked with Matt was a delightfully outspoken lady who became a favorite of mine. Early on after meeting me she asked, “Do you find that people underestimate your intelligence because of your accent?” 🙂 I’ve always enjoyed thinking about that remark; I found it amusing, not insulting in the least. I’m very proud of my accent and have never lost it despite living away from the south for so many years. Thanks for being here and let’s go have ourselves a nice glass of ICED TEA!

      • Sheila

        Sweet iced tea, of course…. Meet you out on the porch! Sheila

  10. Michael Bertoglio

    I saw this same quote last week attributed to Thomas Jefferson. I got a Sony MP3 player for Xmas but have yet to figure out how to download Podcasts. I suppose I could ask a librarian if I ever get around to it. I really like the Tobelowsky files on NPR. Have you listened to any of these?

    • Mike, I too had seen it attributed to Jefferson and thought it was his, until I researched it for this post. I couldn’t find a credible source that lists Jefferson as the author of it, but that doesn’t mean there is not one out there. The MP3 player is right up there with the discovery of penicillin as far as I’m concerned; a major improvement to life. I have 3 or 4 of them that I keep fully loaded (some with music and some with books). I have downloaded many NPR programs but not the one you mention; I’ve not heard of that one. The New Yorker has a lot of free short stories to download, or at least they did as of last year; I haven’t checked it recently. Lots of great podcasts out there for free. By the way, I just finished reading The End of Your Life Book Club – thanks for recommending it! As you might imagine, much of it sounded very familiar. Apparently chemo is similar at all the big cancer centers. One of the drugs she tried (5FU) is on Jeff’s protocol. It was one of the drugs on our NIH Phase III experimental protocol many years ago when I worked for the Brain Tumor Study while Jeff was in dental school. But I digress. Several of the books they discussed are ones I have either read, or have on my bookshelf to read, so it was fun hearing their reactions to them.

  11. “A library is a good place to go when you feel unhappy, for there, in a book, you may find encouragement and comfort. A library is a good place to go when you feel bewildered or undecided, for there, in a book, you may have your question answered. Books are good company, in sad times and happy times, for books are people – people who have managed to stay alive by hiding between the covers of a book.”
    ― E.B. White

    I love libraries. Big ones, small ones it doesn’t matter. I love the smell and I just get lost. I too hope that a library is something we don’t lose. One of my favorite parts in National Treasure is when they go to the library. There are loads of famous people who claim they got their start or became who they are because they went to the library. One of my personal favorites is Ben Carson. His mother worked two jobs and she made her boys go to the library every week and do a book report for her. What a great mom. What a great library to have provided a place for those young men.

    • Amy, thanks for the great quote and the wonderful story about Dr. Carson; I had never heard that. Ray Bradbury used to say he graduated from the public library. (Do you remember when I met him while we lived in CA the first time?) I think libraries and books are one of many things we have in common. Your house is the only one I know of that has more books than ours! But we both still hang around in libraries – lucky us! Thanks so much for being here!

  12. Kathy

    From days of bicycling as a child to the public library in the 1960s — to work-study in the Knox College Library in the 1970s — to carrying armloads of children’s books to the car for Kevin in the 1990s — until tomorrow, when I return a dvd to my current local branch — libraries have been one of MY FAVORITE PLACES, TOO!

    • Kathy, that’s something we have in common. I think our love of books has fueled other interests, such as photography and travel. The mindset of exploration is nourished by the mental journeys we take every time we read. Thanks for being here!

  13. Michael Bertoglio

    Thanks Julia. Steven Tobelowsky is a character actor who was in Groundhog Day- as Ned Ryerson and most recently he has appeared on glee. He has like 58 sessions on tape now and in my opinion is an amazing story teller. His story about moving to New York as a young actor is especially poignant-
    Glad you enjoyed the book-though perhaps a little close to home.

  14. That might have been a good career choice for me too, I love books and quiet places 😀 That library in Maine would put any of ours to shame. I was shocked at the library closest to my home when I moved into Edmonton. It’s got really old books and a poor selection. I went thru the home decor ones in about 4 months. Where I used to live, you could check out monthly magazines, but not in Edmonton. I think I need to ask anyone canvasing our door for a vote what their plan to improve that is.

    • It really is surprising to see the vast differences among public libraries. A lot has to do with the director or whoever is in charge of collection development. It’s not always just a matter of money because I’ve been in situations where funding was tight and yet we were able to improve the collection and circulation of materials significantly, just by focusing on what the patrons most wanted in their libraries. There is a small public library near our York home that is one of the most well-run libraries I have ever seen, although it’s a very small town. I do get discouraged when the public library is disappointing for whatever reason. Most public libraries here have a group called “Friends of the library” that can have a tremendous influence in improving the library. I know you probably won’t have time to go to the San Jose Public Library (main building downtown) but it used to be amazing, and had one of the best education collections I’ve ever seen.

      • I really think there should be more going on there but I’m getting the feeling the city of Edmonton is making a new Hockey Arena their priority which makes my hubby & I crazy because it’s such a colossal expense and there are sooooooo many other immediate needs. Geez, I’ll have to suggest a pit stop to Alys and maybe we can swing in there on our way to coffee or something. I have noticed, the public library right downtown Edmonton is somewhat better, like their flagship of what the others could be like.

        • Often I find that the branch libraries suffer when there is a fabulous main library downtown. Unfortunately, in some places neither are very appealing on first glance, but most at least have the ability to transfer books from affiliated collections for you to borrow at your local branch. Here’s a link to the San Jose library; I had forgotten that it’s affiliated with the university library. That explains why their education collection was so good. Since I’m not big on sports, I too cringe when I see lots of dollars (especially education dollars) going to sports venues. One of our sons’ school districts spent a fortune on putting artificial turf on one of their sports fields, for example. But I think we’re outnumbered where that is concerned. Either most people are way more enthusiastic about sports than I am, or the ones who are have a lot more power than I do. Thank goodness Emily Dickinson was right when she said “how frugal is the chariot that bears a human soul!” Luckily, books can still be enjoyed even on a meager budget.

          • Thank you for including the Library link Julia, I’ve bookmarked it for our trip. You’re always so thoughtful. Are you currently working at a library? I feel your passion for the art of the written word with every visit here.

            Emily Dickinson was so lovely and yes, I am that chariot.

            What I do love about our downtown library is that you get 1 hr of internet time per day. There are so many visitors with meagre means that it means so much too have that. These people probably just scrape by, let alone have a computer at home.

            • No, I’m not working as a librarian right now. Because I have to be here when Matt is here, I would need part time hours and most of the part time library jobs require evenings and weekends. Since we go back to our York home most weekends and holidays, that wouldn’t work out. I hope to return to library work someday though because I love it. Meanwhile it has been helpful in everyday life since I know how to find information. Thanks for your kind words about the blog; I do write about things that I care about so I’m happy if it shows. Your comments about the library remind me of a quote I heard years ago: “The library is the poor man’s university.” So true.

  15. Pam

    A friend sent me this post as I am a retired by force 24 year school librarian. I also worked in public, special and Tennessee State Library and Archives. I love all of them and am looking for part time work at our local branch public library in Nashville. This library is beautiful and I would love to visit and also to visit Maine. My husband and I have talked about doing this very thing so it may very well be in our future. I thoroughly enjoyed your article about the library.

    • Hi Pam, welcome to the site! I’m so happy someone sent you the link. I lived in Nashville for 6 years (4 while I was at Lipscomb and two more while my future husband was finishing school there) and then it was 4 years in Memphis while he was in dental school. My husband is a Tennessean so I feel a real connection to that state. We were SO impressed with the libraries of Maine! Seemingly every little town had a relatively large library, many in historic buildings, and one (in Camden) that was probably the most appealing library I have ever seen, all things considered. We fell in love with Maine on our very first visit there and have been back twice since; hope to return many more times. I’m so glad you liked the library post! There’s a related post here as well as many references to books in the archives of this blog! Good luck finding a part time job; I’ve found they are few and far between, but I dream of being able to go back to work part time at some point in the future. Thanks for being here!

  16. Susan

    I had to share this with you, Julia. From Butte, Montana:

    (Not your Momma’s library!) 🙂

    • I love it! 😀 It’s Butte-iful!

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