“Literary Passport”

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The other day when I was leaving my local library with books in a pile, I once again felt blessed that I could catch up on so many good books for free. I have written about libraries before, but I had some additional thoughts today. Pictured above is the library in the small(tiny) town of Pike, New York where my grandparents had their summer home. The library was open for brief periods in the week and had a limited selection of books, many no doubt donated by residents. But I didn’t need a library card to use it. I just had to tell them I was the granddaughter of the Carpenters and I was good to go. My mother told me that when she was a girl she decided to read every book in that library. I think she made quite a dent in the offerings.

My local library provides a computer hub for residents, many of whom have no internet access at home. The computers are usually full with people applying for work, researching for school or catching up on the news. The expansive DVD collection also sees heavy use. The librarian stays very current in her purchases of new fiction and nonfiction selections, and I often can find a book I have just seen reviewed in the newspaper newly arrived on the shelf.

One of the true benefits of a Connecticut library card comes with the ability to use all the nearby libraries as well as my own. Many times a library a few miles away has a book not owned by my library, and I can request it be sent to mine. Since there is no centralized library system, each town’s library features its own idiosyncratic collection. One has an extensive selection of mysteries. Another seems to have medical references for every ailment known to humankind along with every nontraditional healing approach for each. I can get a sense of the town from the choice of books.

May libraries continue to delight, inform and welcome. Where else can a person read for their entire life for free?

23 thoughts on ““Literary Passport”

  1. Despite widespread cuts to library services in this country, our local library in Dereham is going strong, and is well-supported. I don’t tend to use it to borrow books, but I do use the free Internet access when I am in the town, and appreciate all the community events and other facilities organised by the staff too.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  2. I am with you on libraries, Elizabeth. Sadly, library cuts are an ongoing thing in this country. The one in my town is well-used, but now run by volunteers and is by no means guaranteed to continue running….

  3. Like you, my first library experience was a tiny one in a small town. By tiny, I mean a room so small even we little kids could almost touch the book-lined walls putting our arms out side to side. The dusty, musty, smelly books came from the personal collection of the town’s wealthy old geezer, who had bequeathed them on his death. My mother’s excitement at all those books whose contents she would make time to discover felt like a swarm of bees buzzing around our heads.

    Thank goodness for that man, and for the robber baron Carnegie, who used some of his ill-gotten gains to give a library to nearly every small town in America. Like so much of the good wrought over the last two centuries, free libraries fight for survival today. I pray we are able to change the hearts of the robber barons of today who would deny education—and the resources at our fingertips in free libraries—to all but the wealthy.

    1. Hey–hello. Long time without reading you. Are you back blogging? I agree about Carnegie. I am not sure why those old robber barons had civic enrichment in their bones unlike today’s.

  4. We have a library in our town but not much of fiction books. It’s more of general information and reference books used by the students and computer facilities that you can use if needed.

  5. Our local U3A (University of the Third Age0 has a table where you can leave books you don’t want to keep and pick up books you haven’t read yet. Trouble is, my eyes are bigger than my spare time and they sit on my shelf for longer than they should.

  6. I realize that you are writing about a community library, but I will always remember our school library as a haven for those students who just wanted a place to feel safe. We also had the good fortune of having a librarian on the staff (not all schools have that luxury),

    Librarians have a lot of influence on kids who need a little guidance in finding the appropriate book at the child’s reading level. In addition, they can make suggestions to children and get them turned on to a specific subject, genre, or author.

  7. I have encountered a number of small kiosks that people have erected in their front yards next to the road filled with books. The idea is to take a book or leave a book. What a wonderful idea! I have used these a number of times.

  8. We have a little local community library & a mobile council Shire library truck which comes to each village a few times per week connecting us to surrounding Shire’s libraries, that we can place requests & pick up at the mobile truck & its all free! 😀

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