It may be Valentine’s Day, but it also happens to be Library Lovers Day! Libraries, while constantly in danger of budget cuts, are the cornerstone of our societies. They aren’t just a place to borrow books, DVDs, and an internet connection; many libraries provide special services and host events from author talks, community theater, adult classes, and literacy programs.
I’ve always had a close relationship with my local libraries. My mum and dad used to take my sister and me to our nearby Pasadena library branch, where we’d take out more books than our little arms could carry. I unfortunately also learned all about library fees through this branch, due in part to the fact that I didn’t really want to give the books back. I remember my mum sitting me down and explaining that I couldn’t keep this book, I had to give it back; I tried to hide it and she found it.
We moved to a new town and my middle school stood right next to the local library; they pretty much shared a campus. I’d spend hours wandering the aisles and discovering new books and genres — some of the first romance novels I read came from this library — while waiting for my parents to pick me up. It was here, in the marvelous children’s section, that I discovered the likes of Tamora Pierce’s Alanna series and Ellen Raskin’s The Westing Game.
As an adult, I was fortunate enough to have access to the magnificent New York Public Library. One of the absolute best, the NYPL gave me access to books when I was seriously struggling as a waitress in New York. The NYPL pulled me up from some of my low periods and the brightest parts of my days were when I’d get that email notifying me that my books were waiting. When I transitioned to a full-time office job, ebooks from Overdrive saved me from days of boredom. In the time between January and October of my final year in that position I read 42 books, many of which came from the NYPL.
When I planned to move overseas to the UK, I knew I’d have to get rid of most of my books (along with pretty much everything else I owned). I ended up donating about 90% of my personal library to the Webster Branch’s secondhand bookshop. All sales from the shop go directly back into the NYPL, so it felt a little like my own way of saying thank you for the years of joy the library brought me.
Now that I’m in the UK, I’m sad to say that I haven’t used my local library much. I’ve visited here and there, but I do plan to change that in order to support a fantastic institution because just like in the United States, libraries in the UK are also in danger of closure.
What is your greatest memory from your local library? What’s the best book you’ve discovered through a librarian?