Pat Wahler

Penning stories to savor.

Homage to Our Public Libraries

Do you get a little thrill of anticipation when you walk through the door of a library? Does the sight of hundreds of books meticulously arranged according to the Dewey Decimal system (or alphabetically by author name) put you over the moon?

Books have always been my kryptonite. When the kids were little they used to complain about going into a library or bookstore with me. Their concerns were valid. I’m a book browser, and can happily spend hours reading the back cover blurbs before I make a selection. Such habits aren’t popular with those who don’t share my passion.

When I was a child, I’d visit the library to find reading material for the week. This would typically include Nancy Drew, the Black Stallion series, and anything by Marguerite Henry. At the check-out counter, a gray-haired librarian who seemed to be at least one hundred years old, would stamp a due date on a card, and then hand me a stack of books to take home. I felt like the richest person on earth picking any book I wanted to read from among hundreds of possibilities.

Okay, maybe she wasn’t THIS old. (Pixabay)

Libraries have been around for centuries, but public libraries are a more recent phenomenon. In the seventeenth century, universities set up libraries for students, which became the first step toward establishing a place designated specifically for housing books to lend.  Wealthy patrons like Andrew Carnegie donated huge sums of money to open libraries in communities who pledged to support the institution with a tax ensuring the library’s books would be lent to the public free of charge. The free public library notion grew and prospered over the years.

A cool recent development is the little free library. You might have seen a few of these tiny nooks with books. Anyone is invited to take what they want, and leave a book or two for whoever comes along next. A pretty cool concept, if you ask me.

A cute little book nook. (Pixabay)

Yet there are naysayers who claim the library is on the way out. They speculate someday everyone will read electronically, so there won’t be any need for a pubic library.

I disagree.

Libraries have proven they can change with the times, providing services and programs invaluable to the community. Take, for example, the St. Charles City-County Library District.  They continue to amaze me with not only an outstanding collection of books (no worries if they don’t have what you want, just ask and they’ll get it), but they also offer an incredible variety of other ways to assist. Need help with taxes? Want to learn how to knit? Would you like to make a lovely bead bracelet? Our library has programs on these topics and much, much more. For a glimpse of what’s happening, click HERE to see a calendar of events for the St. Charles City-County Library. You might find yourself signing up for a computer class, or maybe even meet your favorite author.

The Spencer Branch Library.  (Slide show from library website)

It’s my belief that libraries will continue to figure out what we need, and then deliver it. And books? As a hybrid reader, I have a few volumes on my Kindle, but a glance at my home bookcases (yes, more than one) will verify I still love reading a physical book. I don’t expect that to change.

You have it straight from me. Libraries are here to stay.

So, let’s hear it for the public library. A gem of a resource holding the keys to the past, and guiding us through the gateway to the future.

 

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14 Comments

  1. I love the library! Even though I have a lot of books in my to-read stacks to get through, I still can’t resist going to the library. I even have a special bag for my library books.

  2. Linda O'Connell

    February 8, 2018 at 8:26 am

    Pat, I am amazed at all the library has to offer. The new one near us has a play area for toddlers. My stack of to-be-read books continues to grow.

  3. Ah, libraries! I love libraries! And there is a free little library just down the road. The local library is a friendly place, and I was happy to learn they’d take my books. In Georgia, the county library was tough to break into. Here, they’re happy to take books from local authors. 🙂

    • Pat Wahler

      February 10, 2018 at 7:10 am

      Lisa, having the support of the local library is a wonderful thing. Ours is so generous with giving authors (even local authors) time to speak on topics of interest, they advertise the event, and allow book sales afterward. They also are happy to add local author books to their collection. We are so lucky!

  4. Oh yes. Libraries are definitely here to stay, even without all the additional services they offer. A few years ago the publishing industry was predicting the takeover of the e-book and it never materialized. It’s pretty much holding steady now as still falls way behind print. People love the feel (and smell!) of real books. And even though when I’m researching, I definitely appreciate the digitization of so many resources, the ability to flip easily through pages to locate information is something I don’t see the world ever giving up entirely.

  5. Before Google, the library was my stop on my way home from school to get my homework done. My local library is a very intimate setting and I enjoy a book club and other events, but when I visit the downtown Fort Worth library, I’m in total awe of the mass of books (city block) which I’m fortunate to peruse. I am eternally grateful that I’m able to read anything on the shelves.

    • Pat Wahler

      February 11, 2018 at 3:27 pm

      Ann, your library sounds amazing. I love the idea of having a small gathering area, yet still being able to access vast resources.

  6. Katie and I go to the library all the time. The ones in St. Louis County always seem to be hopping! So I agree that they are here to stay!

    • Pat Wahler

      February 12, 2018 at 7:31 am

      Margo, my daughter takes the grandbaby (he’s almost 2) to the library every week and he loves it! Introducing children to the joys of the library creates a great foundation.

  7. My first “professional” publication was an essay I wrote for the St. Charles County Library contest “What the Library Means to Me,” when I was in the sixth grade. I won first place and they printed it in the newspaper. Such a thrill for me, a quiet student who didn’t stand out. I have loved writing and libraries ever since. To me, the two go hand in hand.

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