When I was in high school, I used to stop by the local library several times a week on my way home from school. I would look at fashion magazines, check out cassette tapes of Bob Dylan, and browse through the card catalog to find the subject area for whatever was interesting me that day. I don’t think it was lost on me—even as a fifteen-year-old—what a precious resource it was to have this unlimited and free access to information. I realize this is a bit of a cliche, but it truly did open up entire worlds to me. Of course, now we have Google and Wikipedia and a dizzying amount of alternate sources of information, but I still do love my library.
The library has changed with the times too. Now when a friend mentions something she’d read and enjoyed or I am suddenly taken over by a new interest (tanning my own leather? building a canoe?), I just head to my library’s web site and search through their collections and place a hold. I receive emails when the books are available and again before they are due. Couldn’t be easier. Our family checks out hundreds and hundreds of books, DVDs and CDs every year. Sure, sometimes I have to wait months on end for the latest Michael Pollan or season of Mad Men, but that’s okay.
My kids like to use the library the old-fashioned way. Our branch is halfway between home and school, so we stop there often (sometimes daily in the summer months). They browse the shelves, making new discoveries and returning to old favorites again and again. What I love about taking my kids to the library is that after always being the naysayer—telling them that’s too expensive, too unhealthy, too unsafe—I get to say yes. Yes to excess. Get that book. Get the whole five-part series while you’re at it. Yes, we can come back tomorrow.
You know what was pretty great? Visiting the central library and seeing A Year of Mornings on the shelf—bar-coded, taped and a bit dog-eared from use. I felt like we’d come full circle, the library and me.