Endless, incredible loot

Main reading room, the U. S. Library of Congress, Washington DC Photograph by Carol M. Highsmith, public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Main reading room, the U. S. Library of Congress, Washington DC
Photograph by Carol M. Highsmith, public domain via Wikimedia Commons

“The richest person in the world – in fact, all the riches in the world – couldn’t provide you with anything like the endless, incredible loot available at your local library. You can measure the awareness, the breadth and the wisdom of a civilization, a nation, a people by the priority given to preserving these repositories…”  — Malcolm Forbes

I’ve read that the public library is “the poor man’s university,” and I think that’s an apt description.  However, it can also be a rich person’s playground, as Forbes attested.  Are you enjoying this wonderfully accessible wealth?  If not, I encourage you to check out your local library (no pun intended) and if it’s not to your liking, explore others within a reasonable drive until you find one that fits your idea of a fun place to browse, dream and relax.

Even if your closest library is somewhat lacking, most have resources that allow you to tap into online databases and inter-library loans to find whatever you most want to read or study. Many libraries offer free classes, music and movies, electronic readers for checkout, and other items. But the books are enough to draw many of us back again and again.

A rainy spring day is a great time to hunt for an absorbing book.  You’ll want to have one or two on hand for those nice warm days that will be calling you outside to spend a few minutes relaxing in a lawn chair or on a park bench.  Visit a library soon, and capture a bit of loot to treasure!

23 Comments

  1. Good morning, Julia! So true!
    And at this time of year, we (up north) can use a little nudge to get out of the house.
    I’ll be forwarding this post to a couple of my favorite Librarians 🙂
    I may have already shared this with you:
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=sS3GR1TiPxQ
    Have a great Thursday and weekend!

    • Thanks Susan, I love that video! They were very clever to think of it. My home seems to have some sort of magnetic field that attracts books; I always end up with way more than I have space or time for, but it would be much, much worse if not for the public library, where I can get my fix without spending anything, and then take the books back for others to enjoy. What a win-win situation! And now a good bit of it is accessible 24/7 from home, via computers. We are lucky indeed. Hope you have a great weekend too. They are actually calling for snow here — WHAT??? A teensy bit, but still…

  2. Jack

    I’m but a mere 7 days from my annual spring vacation with my wife, and periodically dropping in, 3 of my 4 kids. The day goes thusly: awake, read pre-daylight , eat, walk, read in beach chair, nap, read on veranda, eat, March Madness, read in bed, sleep. Atul Gawande is on deck, not sure yet who’s in the hole. For 6 days!! Boring say my kids, heaven says I!

    I’m taking good fiction recommendations…got any?

    • Wow, that sounds like an ideal vacation to me! I haven’t read any of Atul Gawande’s books, though I think I’ve read some of his shorter pieces. I’m not sure what type of fiction you enjoy, but I read a bit of everything except romance novels. Depending on how much time you have, I can think of several I’ve enjoyed just recently. If you want a nice long book, Ken Follet’s Pillars of the Earth was great, and I want to read the rest of the books in that series. I used to love reading his suspense, but I like this book even better; clearly, his talent is not confined to one genre. I finally read Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov recently (well, almost two years ago) and was surprised how much I liked it. For something lighter, I like Alexander McCall Smith’s books; Corduroy Mansions is a good starting place for those who love dogs, though the Botswana series (beginning with The Number One Ladies’ Detective Agency) is my favorite. I like Joyce Carol Oates, Jhumpa Lahiri, Lisa See and sometimes John Updike, though all of these authors have had titles I didn’t particularly enjoy. In classics, my favorites are Jane Austen, Charles Dickens and Henry James. Two books I read and loved in recent years became movies I was afraid to see, because I didn’t know how they could be captured in a movie, but both were well done in the film versions: Life of Pi by Yann Martel, and The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. I guess I could go on and on, but I’ll leave it at that for now.

  3. Julia, libraries are my favorite place to visit.
    In Poteau, we are blessed with an outstanding library. It’s light, with plenty of Comfort chairs and lots of books. 🙂 Great place to visit.
    In fact, my husband just said, “I need to go to the library!”
    Fortunately, we live five blocks from the Library! ~/

    • Merry, I am green with envy! I have always dreamed of living walking distance from the library. We have one near our York home that I’d love to walk to, but it’s a highway with no sidewalks, no real shoulders, lots of trees and poor visibility; I’d be squashed like a bug before I ever got there. Just as well, I suppose, or I might never come back from my walks in time to get my housework done. Your library sounds ideal. I love going to the public library wherever I go. It tells you quite a bit about the location, in my opinion. Happy reading!

  4. Sheila

    Julia, you must think me MIA. That’s just it, too much action! We are back at Willow Tree for the weekend. I was putting Walter in his travel cage (to be boarded) and thinking about what fun if you just lived closer he could visit with you. That would be a win-win! 🐥☺️ It’s very late, rather tired. Have a good weekend. Thinking of you, fondly! Sheila

    • Hi Sheila, I’ve been MIA quite a bit myself lately, so I totally understand. I would love to host Walter for a visit! I’ve often thought that it would be great if there was some sort of timeshare for animals – lots of people who can’t be home full time with a dog, cat or bird might really enjoy having one for a month or two each year. I guess that would be too hard on the critters to get used to 6 different homes. Hope you had a great weekend! Our weather has been really nice and spring is in the air!

  5. I think we can safely expand the incredible loot statement to include the internet. Every library of any kind is at your fingertips, where in a rich or poor nation. Every living being on earth has access to humanity’s wealth of knowledge, successes and failures.

    • Bob, that’s so true. We all have grown accustomed to the web so that we don’t even stop to think about how amazing it is, most of the time. 22 years ago when I started library school at UH, my professors told us that the web would soon be all graphics that would download quickly (it was all text in those days). It sounded like a space-age dream to me. Now here we are, with almost any sort of info (including false info, hee-hee) available within seconds. Just this past weekend some friends and I were talking about how amazing it is that the collections of many art museums are available for viewing online, and even rare things that cannot be viewed by the public (including old manuscripts such as Da Vinci’s codex on the flight of birds) can be viewed digitally, page by page. We are fortunate indeed.

      • The entire library of congress is on there. Amazon.com has 250,000 free books to give us. Every painting and musical work is also free for the asking. It’s an incredible source of learning and wonderment. There’s still plenty of room for improvement. I’m shocked how poor the photographic quality is for plants and flowers in particular. When I email some of my flower pictures to an expert for identification they are blown away. Why aren’t ALL plant photos of a high quality?

        • Bob, I think part of the reason is that the internet is a big free-for-all, so anyone can and does post whatever they want, and lots of people such as I post snapshots taken with inexpensive cameras. Also, high quality photos are not as freely available to web designers as the amateur snapshots, because most professional photographers understandably want to charge for at least some of what they produce. Most people who aren’t trained to see quality in photos (and I include myself in this group) think all flowers are pretty and don’t worry about the details that a professional would see. But you probably use a good macro lens and do other things to enhance the image quality. Likewise, much of the writing that is published online would make many an editor or traditional publisher shudder. So the unedited quality of the internet is both a blessing and a curse. Have you considered contributing to any free photo databases such as Wikimedia Commons? There are some stunning photos there; many are posted by professionals who include a link to their collections, not all of which are free. They are the online equivalent of free samples, I guess.

          I agree with you that the internet is wonderful AND also has much room improvement. I am getting burned out on the ads, which seem more and more intrusive at many sites. I find the noisy pop-up and/or video ads particularly annoying. Also, when downloading useful “free” programs, more and more of them are bundling “crapware” (adware and malware) that they don’t bother to let you know about. Unfortunately, even the reputable sources have started doing it. I’ve recently experienced some really frustrating problems trying to get rid of add-ons and registry changes I didn’t want and didn’t know I was getting. I also think Facebook and other social media seem to have more and more ads. I would download another copy of ad blocker, but I’m afraid of getting yet more unseen bundled “features” that I don’t want. Still, the pluses far outweigh the minuses. I have thought many times about the movie “Lorenzo’s Oil” and how much easier things would be for those parents today. The abundance we enjoy is truly astonishing.

          • The parable of the wheat and weeds comes to mind immediately. We must learn to live with the weeds or ads that annoy us. The wheat is to valuable to ignore. Even though I choose to avoid all social media it is a force to reckon with, ask Isis.
            I’ve posted thousands of high quality photos on photographic forums, blogs and websites. Every one of those photos still exists on the web. If I search Google images for the Yaquina Head Lighthouse My pictures show up very quickly. I post extraordinarily high quality photos in that the rest are 72 dpi mine are all 300 dpi. You can enlarge them all to poster size. I’ve even bumped into my work being illegally used in my own favorite camera shop in Portland. My salesman was shocked to see the Camera World national brand had picked one of my tiger photos off the web for a brochure without so much as asking permission. When I showed him my hidden signature of his brochure he was amazed.

            • Bob, it’s true that most good things in life are trade-offs. I agree that the benefits make the downside worth living with, although I don’t always feel that way when I’m having Bad Computer Day. I used to think I took pretty good photos until I started seeing the real thing online. You’re generous (or trusting, or both) to post high resolution photos. For most artists, I think knowing that many others are enjoying their work is a compensation that goes beyond money. The internet has made that possible.

              • You can’t prevent a dishonest person from stealing your photos so I decided to make 300dpi photos available for free to everyone. I’m not going to lose sleep worrying about copyright infringement since there’s no way to prevent it short of defacing your posted photos. That’s not why I post them. I’ve sent, upon request, photos overseas to followers with permission to use them freely. I see my work everywhere these days both online and even in camera shop literature. It’s the highest form of flattery when I point out my pictures on commercial brochures. They’re shocked when I show them proof. No sleep lost.

                • Bob, that’s a great attitude. And in the digital world, I think it’s the only way to go. I decided awhile back I did not want to even try to make any money off blogging. If I needed it, I would feel differently, but one of my favorite verses is Matthew 10:8B (“Freely you have received; freely give”) and if anyone finds anything useful in my work, I am happy for them to share it as long as it’s not distorted or used for nefarious purposes. I like that you don’t watermark your photos. It would take so much from their drama.

                  • I do place a barely visible signature in the bottom right hand corner of every photo, just as proof the shot was taken by me. I keep the Original RAW file as final proof that it’s mine.

  6. LB

    Hi Julia! It’s been so long since I’ve been able to touch base with some of my favorite bloggers! I do worry that the campaign is going to get in the way of blogging and of reading books. Sigh ….
    Looking forward to meeting you 🙂

    • Hi LB, I have enjoyed imagining your hitting the campaign trail and making new friends daily. I know it must be very demanding, but I’m glad at least some of us are willing to do it. We all understand that your time is rightly limited for now. YES I am looking forward to meeting you face to face very soon!

  7. Anon E. Moose

    You disavowed the pun in “check out your local library”. Talk about straining the gnat and swallowing the camel . . . “A rainy spring day is a great time to hunt for an absorbing book”? I have unintentionally soaked up spilled coffee with books. Absorbing, indeed.

    • Why did I not see this one coming? 🙂 One great thing about books soaking up spilled coffee: they don’t immediately crash and become totally unreadable as computers do if coffee is spilled on them. I know this from personal experience! Thank goodness for the gurus at Geek ABC (my local computer shop). Computers are NOT absorbing in the literal sense. Now I never drink tea of coffee without a cover on my mug.

  8. Reblogged this on Gr8fullsoul.

    • Thank you! I’m so happy you found it worth sharing. I appreciate the encouragement.

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