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Suggested by Barbara:

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?

I love libraries! As I’m positive I’ve mentioned before, I’ve worked in the library field for four years now- first as a volunteer, then moving up the ranks, and now, due to the economy being what it is, I’m back to being a volunteer. But losing my job has not diminished my love of libraries in any way; I’m volunteering at the last library system for which I worked, and I’m in the process of trying to decide whether I want to begin graduate school for library science in the fall or the spring (fall is still possible; some programs accept applications well into the summer).

When I go to the library to volunteer, I don’t generally check anything out. I’m a cataloging volunteer, so right now I’m just working on cataloging donated items that have been sitting in the back room of the big library for a long time. To check items out, I go to the branch nearest my house- a Carnegie built in 1909. I generally go once every few weeks, and most of the time, I end up returning items I’ve checked out unread. I want to read them, but I tend to get distracted by the books on my shelves- or I take too many books in the first place.

I don’t think the bookstore and coffeehouse have really replaced the library. Many libraries now allow food and drink, and some even have in-house cafés, which allows people to get their caffeine fix while browsing the stacks. And I think the sense of community is still alive in public libraries. I’ve worked in small and medium-sized libraries, and in both, people inevitably run into someone they know, and it’s great to see people catching up with each other. Story times allow parents with children of similar ages to foster friendships as well. And more and more libraries are participating in the One Book, One Community campaign, which encourages everyone in the community to take a month and read the same book, and attend discussions on the book.

My childhood memories of the library actually aren’t all that strong, but I know we went from time to time. However, when my brother was playing Pop Warner football, there was a library branch of the LA County library in the park where he practiced, so while he was at practice and my parents were watching, I would go to the library to do homework. Well, I didn’t end up getting all that much done, because I was too busy browsing the books, but I spent a lot of time in there, and I loved every second of it.

In terms of which kind of library I prefer, I actually have mixed feelings. I love the volume of items new, large libraries can hold, but I LOVE the feeling of old, cozy libraries. My library of choice is the Carnegie by my house, where I used to work. It’s not very big at all, but it’s got so much character, and you can really see that it’s been an important part of the community over the years. It’s so great to go there, because if you go there enough, the employees learn your name, and you foster a real relationship with them. Even in suburban areas, there’s just something about the small libraries that makes them a part of the community in ways that bigger libraries with a higher volume of traffic simply can’t be.

I can go on for hours about libraries and the things I love about them. But I do have to go to my volunteering gig this morning.

What about you? What do you love about your library?

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