25 March 2008

i love the library

I did something fun this morning. I rediscovered the library! (And got a library card!)
I've walked by them in Brooklyn and in the city, and even seen people reading library books on the subway, but until today, I hadn't actually set foot one on in New York (with the exception of taking a touristy pleasure visit to the main New York Public Library). I mean, sure, I've thought about going into the library dozens of times. And today, I didn't have anything better to do, so I just strolled into the Leonard Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library system in Williamsburg.

"But Aja, what does the library have to do with healthy lifestyles, being green, or eating well?"
Ah, yes, I initially asked myself that same question, but then I thought a bit further, and came up with a few responses and reasons why supporting our public libraries are great...

1. By borrowing your books and movies instead of buying, you're not only saving green, you're being green! You can check something out purely because you're curious, without having to commit to owning it-- you're not buying something you'll only read or view once, and you won't accumulate unnecessarily.
2. Libraries are an amazing community resource, offering free classes and seminars on things like Word Processing, sponsor poetry readings and cultural events, have book circles and children's story times, have free internet access, and have an amazing resource of free books, CDs, DVDs, and more for you!
3. Your taxes pay for it. Why not take advantage?
4. There's no pressure at a library. You can sit there and read or study, use the computers, and browse to your heart's content. You aren't bombarded with the sound of the cafe, with Top 40 music blasting, or with the conversations of other people nearby.
5. The library will expose you to new things! While libraries usually stock the most recent best-sellers, they also have interesting region-specific collections, independent and foreign films and documentaries, books in foreign languages, cookbooks, magazines, and other global media. And because the neighborhood branches are often smaller than most conventional bookstores, it's easier to explore all of the sections and find something you might not have expected.
6. No worries about overdue books-- many library systems now have online renewal, so if you need a few extra days, or weeks, no problem! You can also usually search for and reserve books this way.

When I was young, I loved going to the school and public libraries. I loved to read, and spent my summers racking up points in the public library's children's fun-reading incentive program. I remember filling large canvas bags with books and dragging them home. I also discovered new music-- classical, opera, and jazz-- by borrowing CDs from the library, and in college, I liked to rent old and foreign films from the University library.

I've always been a fan of used books, and almost always buy my books used when I can, and in college, I created the 'A.T.M. Media Center' as a bit of a joke, because I always had friends borrowing books and movies and CDs from me-- or I encouraged them to at least. And even now, once I read a book, I usually try to pass it on to a friend or family member who I think will enjoy it, and encourage them to do the same.

Going to the library feels good. I enjoy supporting my community in this way as well as staying involved in reading books. I think we've gotten away from reading as much as we've used to, now that we have 1000's of cable channels at our fingertips, dozens of things to keep up with online everyday, video games to keep us perfectly occupied in our down time. But nothing competes with cozying up in bed, comfortable chair, or in a sunny patch at a park with a lovely book. Go find a library in your neighborhood and see what it has to offer! Also consider looking into the libraries at a public university near you-- they usually allow community members to check out books, or at least use the library as a resource.

I do feel a little embarrassed that it's taken me this long to get back into the library, but it's totally made my day. I love this opportunity to check out books or movies without having to commit to owning them, or I checked out two poetry books, but I saw a few things I'd like to go back and get next time around. Time to stop writing and do some reading!

Find a public library near you at www.publiclibraries.com


Janet Watkins said...

I love the library, too! I can make a day of it finding a cozy corner to curl up in and read that favorite book, magazine or newspaper. And, it is certainly a "green" and economical way to minimize the pressure on the environment and your pocket. Right now I have one-time read books and magazines that must be recycled. Think green!

kaitlyn said...

Going to the library is my dream come true. It's so quiet, and there are all those books!

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