When I was a kid I LOVED the library. It was this amazing place you could go and get books to take home FOR FREE!
(I am oh so very grateful to my parents for having a house full of books (I still remember the two giant bookshelves at the top of the stairs, as well as the bookshelf in my bedroom) and instilling a love of reading in me, because I really do love books and reading and I'm glad I do!)
I don't remember when I stopped using the library regularly, but at some point I did, and I would buy books instead (also another pleasure!) Sometimes at book stores and later at amazon (truthfully, just because of the savings, and I say that somewhat guiltily, I do so love picking a book off an actual shelf and taking it home!)
When I started to have to really tighten up my budget, one of the things I had to let go of, or I suppose, I *chose* to let go of was buying books. But I still wanted to read, so I decided at some point (last year?) to go through my bookshelf at home and see if there were books I could let go of.
I don't keep all my books, just the ones that I really enjoyed, so my bookshelf isn't all that large, but it's also doubly full... as in each shelf has two books deep... if you picture what I'm saying, so I still have a decent number of books, including a secondary shelf just for childhood favourites.
When I started going through my old books, I realized that many of them weren't that happy or relaxing, or in some really frustrating cases, I'd loaned out one of a series and only had the others left so... no fun to start mid way through.
At some point, I realized that I'd all but forgotten about the library and that I'd never actually been to the ones near where I live, so I decided to visit them.
Now, the library I grew up with is the library I think of when I picture a "library." I honestly couldn't tell you how big it was but I remember the kid's section and the picture books and then I remember how grown up I felt when I started moving to the "non-kid's" section. I remember it was on the other "side" of the library and I was proud I had moved on to chapter books and real books.
I also remember card catalogues and the stamps you'd get on the cards with the return date in that little envelope at the front and man oh man I loved libraries as a kid.
When I visited the library closest to me I took in my card and explained that I hadn't used it in years and that I wasn't sure I'd ever used the online system and so they checked my account and showed me how to log in and it's been all go since then!
I also decided to track how much I would have spent had I bought the books I took out on Amazon and so far I'm at $270. And I know, there's an argument some have made that libraries don't help authors make any money because we're not out there buying their book, but I'm not NOT a book buyer, I just am on such a tight budget that I'm not buying any right now. And having read nearly three hundred dollars worth of books is an awesome thing to see.
I do, occasionally, get stressed by a book taking too long to read, especially if it's a popular book and I can't renew it so there are some I've had to pass on (until they get less popular) and sometimes a book I want is waaaaaaay full of other people who want it and so I just... hope it dies down at some point, but it's pretty cool to just... request a book online and then get a notification that it's ready for pick up and an email reminder when it's coming due, but most importantly... BOOKS! FOR FREE!!!
I went to the "main" branch last week and was surprised at how big it is. I didn't even go through it all, I just was looking for a book and I got lost because I mis-read the numbers and there's like a whole library upstairs and it didn't seem like that many fiction books but like I said I didn't really look around too much, it was kind of intimidating!
Maybe next time I go back to where I grew up I'll stop in to "my" library. I have no idea if it's been renovated since I left (I wouldn't be surprised if it has) but it would be nice to see if I get that same sense of happy and almost magic that I felt as a kid.
So yeah, I've been getting back to library books for the last while, and my bank account thanks me. Books are awesome, especially the good ones! (And I know that "good" is a relative term and that's cool too.) (Hey, I just remembered I used to track the books I was reading on my sidebar here, wish I'd kept a list of them all!)