Treading Lightly
Treading Lightly

My ode to the library

I love the library.

When I was little my mom would take me to the library frequently. I remember walking the stacks in the children’s section and climbing on top of the stools to see the shelves that were taller than me. One of my earliest memories is of pulling books out of those shelves.

We went so often that I could remember exactly what books we had read and I could instantly recognize when a book was new. I would pull out huge stacks of books, often waist-high on me. We would shove them in a tote bag (which was my limit, anything that didn’t fit had to wait until next time. It wasn’t a small bag – a true sign I was loved). As soon as we were home I would giddily ask to read them all. At once. No stopping.

And as soon as we were done I would ask to go back.

More than twenty years later, I still feel the same. I get the same butterflies and excitement to walk the shelves. I still fill my arms with more books than is reasonable for a single person. It makes me happy to see all of the books waiting for someone to come along and pick them up.

My recent haul

My recent haul

But I get a lot more out of the library than joy. It always blows my mind how few people frequently use the library. You know they let you take books, for free, as long as you promise to bring them back, right? It’s the best!

Borrowing books from the public library (and rarely, friends) keeps my shelves clear and prevents me from spending a fortune on books. It always takes away the guilt of reading. Reading shouldn’t be a guilty pleasure. Just a pleasure.

I’ve never regretted checking a book out of the library instead of buying it. It lowers the risk, which means I will often try books I never would have paid money for. I can check books out again and again if I really feel like rereading them, which sometimes I do.

I have an e-reader, but I really only use it when carrying around books isn’t practical, like when I’m traveling.

There is something to be said for the weight of a book in your hand, the feel of the paper on your fingertips, the smell of a fresh binding or years collecting that perfect old-book scent.

I paid a dollar to get my library card back in the ’90s. It was one of the best dollars I’ve ever spent.

*Yes, I am aware that this was not an actual ode.

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