Thursday, April 22, 2010

Fear and Loathing at the Library

Let's get one thing clear - I neither fear nor loath libraries.  In fact, just the opposite, I may be suffering from library addiction.  Besides being a fantastic first-stop reference for any work in progress (WIP), they're a great place to relax during a lunch hour, to discover new authors, old authors and books out of print, read current magazines for the latest trends or some of North America's biggest newspapers or the latest in any small town that publishes a newspaper in the province. 

I buy some reference books but for many I go to the library.  When I check out a book that appears useful for more than the current WIP, I usually buy it.   I found a keeper just the other day.  But an online search indicated that not only is the book rare, the few that are available are prohibitively expensive.  So this reference book I will check out  for the longest period allowed to me.  Which always brings me dangerously close to the world of library fines. 

So why fear and loathing?  Fear comes in not being able to contain myself surrounded by so many books.  I mean, there's only so many I can read at any given time and obviously I misjudge that consistently - check out my library fines.  Hah - you thought I'd give you a link for that.  Let's just say that the other day I dutifully paid the local library $9.

Loathing - well there is none - it was just a good title - don't you think?  Surprisingly, at least to me, I've met many people that rarely enter a library.  Yet some well-known names spent considerable time in libraries as librarians.   I get that they aren't for everyone.  Some people just aren't readers.  But what about the movies, the exhibits, the music, reference materials (want to know what's happening in your community - just ask the librarian) or for those with no internet access - there's that too.  My home library offers almost every option for accessibility.

That's not all, there's library blogs - a lot of them.  So why are libraries a rarely frequented stranger to some, particularly to those who are readers?  Is it fear, loathing or are libraries a thing of the past?

Maybe this quote explains why some readers rarely shadow a library's door:
Seventy million books in America's libraries, but the one you want to read is always out.
- Tom Masson

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