As a kid I loved going to the library, getting a bunch of books and reading them, and returning for more. I loved them to the point that one of my “saddest” moments as a child was my mom breaking a promise to take me to the library. We went the next day, but as a kid who had nothing to judge it against, it was rough. Eventually I began growing up and like many people my library usage dwindled. I still had positive feelings towards them, but it wasn’t convenient for me or I was distracted by other things. I just stopped having a need for it. Since I stopped going to the library, my reading dwindled. While my family got the Harry Potter books as they came out, I didn’t do much reading beyond that and required reading for school.
Fast forward to 16 years old and me moving from California to Canada, and I was nearly cut off from reading completely, that is until I learned my school had a library, and I began reading at a pace I had never done before. I read 31 books in 3 months, a couple I had read before but most were new. My school had AR reading Points, and while we were required to get 25 points, I got 469. However girlfriends, videogames, and reddit took me away from reading. I read very little after that for a few years. Until I learned of Overdrive (now Libby), which allowed me to download books from my local Library straight to my phone. Again my reading use climbed. I think at this point I should mention that while I grew up middle class, by this point I was firmly poor, as I continue to be today.
At the end of High school I had a crazy idea. I decided to walk across the US. 4,500 miles of walking over the course of roughly a year. I spent anywhere from 8-16 hours a day walking and would often go a few days without talking to people. My journey was about more than travel it was about self-improvement and experiencing things I’d never gotten to before. To that end I would download audiobooks and I listened to many of the classics I had never read before. It made many days pass by quicker and helped me retain my sanity. I would have never been able to afford those audiobooks myself. When I finished my trip, I had crossed 18 states, worn out 8 pairs of shoes, and listened to/read over 40 books from The Count of Monte Cristo to His Dark Materials, to the Art of War.
When I returned home I began to follow my local library and would occasionally see new programs it would have in the news. A couple years ago they got 3D printers and so, redditor that I am, printed off a Snoo to bring to meetups. While I was there, there was about an 8 year old girl who was 3D printing some little plastic keychain tags for her friends. I was amazed that she even knew how to do that. Then earlier this year they started loaning out GoPro Kits and so on Labour Day, a friend and I hitchhiked up north a bit to go camping and made a video of the trip. As someone who is low income, the Library has helped me to do things I would never have been able to do, and in some cases, never would have thought to do. My library has also put a recording studio in one of the branches and has many other programs such as a podcast listening club (book club but for podcasts), they allow you to digitize old photos, move VHS and CD’s to digital files, give help on research, allow you to read magazines and newspapers from around the world (literally as the stuff is published), borrow museum/regional park passes, and so much more. While I had thought that being able to download ebooks/audiobooks to my phone would mean I’d never have to go to the library again, all of the other offerings my library has makes me keep going back. My life has had many periods of off-and-on again library usage, and it may continue, but I know that when I need it, it will be there for me.
I would like to say thank you to all the librarians (and library technicians!) that have helped me. Some have helped me find books, some have kept the library organized, some have gotten added books I recommended to the collection, and some have ensured the Library continues to grow, evolve, and keep bringing me back. I can say with certainty that my life would be genuinely worse without the Library. Keep up the good work and I’ll see you tomorrow when I have to return The Marrow Thieves.
Thanks for posting that one Boondawg. If you don't mind me tagging along I thought I'd take this opportunity to point out that the Library that man cherished was probably built with funds provided by 'robber baron' Andrew Carnegie. I recently was in the Tacoma Public Library, main branch, and found that was one of his. There was an incredible stained glass sky light that had been sealed over b/c of a worker accident years ago, more's the pity. Picture below regrettably doesn't do it justice at all. These libraries are all over the Country and the World!
Many Americans first entered the worlds of information and imagination offered by reading when they walked through the front doors of a Carnegie library. One of 19th-century industrialist Andrew Carnegie’s many philanthropies, these libraries entertained and educated millions. Between 1886 and 1919, Carnegie’s donations of more than $40 million paid for 1,679 new library buildings in communities large and small across America. Many still serve as civic centers, continuing in their original roles or fulfilling new ones as museums, offices, or restaurants.
The patron of these libraries stands out in the history of philanthropy. Carnegie was exceptional in part because of the scale of his contributions. He gave away $350 million, nearly 90 percent of the fortune he accumulated through the railroad and steel industries. Carnegie was also unusual because he supported such a variety of charities. His philanthropies included a Simplified Spelling Board, a fund that built 7,000 church organs, the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, and the Carnegie Endowment for Peace. Carnegie also stood out because some questioned his motivations for constructing libraries and criticized the methods he used to make the fortune that supported his gifts.
As a kid, our local library had a summer reading club. We were supposed to read I think it was 2 a month, but I blew right thru that. I was reading one every 2 or 3 days. I read Salem Lot at about 6 or 7 years old (mom was NOT happy about that one ). Had this big red chair to curl up in and it was beyond comfortable, I could get lost for hours and literally loose track of time.