Let’s go Booking Through Thursday!
“I saw that National Library week is coming up in April, and that led to some questions. How often do you use your public library and how do you use it? Has the coffeehouse/bookstore replaced the library? Did you go to the library as a child? Do you have any particular memories of the library? Do you like sleek, modern, active libraries or the older, darker, quiet, cozy libraries?”
Well! National Library Week is indeed happening soon — April 12-18. I can’t say that I frequent our local libraries for anything other than the Saturday book sale — which is amazing — but I do love the general atmosphere of being surrounded by books and book-minded people! I guess that’s why I loved working at the bookstore so much.
I think that in many ways, the bookstore/coffeehouse has replaced the library as a center of knowledge and community. Of course, I say this as someone who does not go to the library! Those that do will, I’m sure, have a totally different opinion. But in my experience, people came to our Borders to talk to one another, get a cup of coffee, browse through all the latest releases and hang out in the cafe. Our local library system doesn’t have the same ambiance that the bookstore does. It’s older, definitely darker and more out-of-the-way from the center of town. By contrast, our town’s only bookstore lies basically at the heart of the city, is easily accessible and always has new stuff. I prefer the modern feel of the bookstore, but that’s generally true of me.
But that’s not to say that it was always that way. As a kid, I was a staple in our elementary school’s library — always picking up the same few books and, occasionally, branching out to grab some new ones. Up until around fifth grade, my favorite was always The Giant Jam Sandwich! I don’t think I’ve thought about that book in years. I loved it! Many of us would gather around one of the bookshelves, pulling the pages apart eagerly. In that same library, we actually had a huge replica of a Native American hut — yes, we were awesome — and all the kids loved to have storytime in there. I remember racing off to the library so I could be the first to select a picture book, then scampering into the darkness of the hut to read in peace. I’ve always been solitary!
My dad would take my sister and me to the county library, too. Like all dutiful girls of the ’90s, I loved the Babysitter’s Club books — and worked my way through the entire series on no time. We’re all very bookish, so constant trips to the library, the Super Crown bookstore (now a Panera!) and the WaldenBooks (now a Borders Express) were always in order.