I have not been to my local library in years. Amazon Kindle has ruled my reading and the convenience of immediately getting just about any book on the planet is pretty compelling. Books delivered on demand at a $9.99 price is pretty sweet!
But all of this changed for me this weekend.
I was doing a major cleanout of my house which included bags and bags of children’s clothing and I finally got my wife to agree to part with a bookcase worth of old textbooks. As I boxed up the textbooks I considered tossing them in the recycling bin but eventually decided that a donation to the local library was a better option.
I packed the 300 pounds of books into the back of the VW wagon and took them to the loading area of the library for donation. At that point the volunteers help me unbox the books and eventually sort them into piles that the library may want to keep or piles that the library may want to sell at a fundraiser.
It felt good to know that the books may take on a second life of usefulness to someone else. Although it may be a few editions out of date, I don’t think the contents of Campbell’s Biology has really changed that much in 20 years.
After I completed my donation I went into the library to renew my membership card.
The library was packed!
There were senior citizens getting computer training on public PCs.
People were using the free wi-fi.
Meeting rooms were booked by community groups.
Tutoring was happening at tables.
People were studying in solitude near window seats.
A team was prepping gear for a maker’s lab event.
Volunteers were shuttling books to and fro.
There was an energy to the building that made an impression on me.
I realized in that moment that I need to get my family back to the library. We live in an age of instant gratification and can live our whole lives gathering information at the speed of light from the comfort of our own homes. We can type a few letters into Google and it will auto complete our thought and find more information than ever though possible.
But what about the life skills that the library teaches us?
Sure card catalogs may be going the way of the dodo bird, but the Dewey Decimal System may now be electronic at your library. Kids still have to learn to look up titles and then use logic to locate the book on the shelf. Oh, and if you waited until the last minute to check out a book that you needed for a school project and it isn’t there? Maybe you need to plan your time a little better and not wait until the last minute to complete your work!
My library also offers DVD movies, music cd, electronics, and museum passes.
Did I mention it has a coffee shop!
I am glad that I decided to give my old books to the library because in return they gave me a new appreciation for the services they offer and what a valued treasure it is for the community.