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?