Libraries and Bookstores

February 3, 2010 at 12:00 am 10 comments

Since I got a job, I have become something of a bookstore addict. When I first started blogging at Literary Transgressions, I admitted my addiction as my transgression/introduction to the blogosphere. Bookstores are great in terms of building a personal collection, but not so great for the local library or the ole pocketbook.

Recently, in an effort to afford graduate school, I’ve once again begun frequenting my local branch library (delightfully called the Ottendorfer!). And I’ve got to say, it has been a dream. There are few things that can equal the pleasure of browsing the library shelves with nothing particular in mind. There are new worlds you don’t even know about and then come around a corner and must face. There are books and authors and things you’ve never heard of, but which you will grow to love. For some reason, the sheer multitude of books published and available strikes me most vividly in libraries rather than bookstores. Libraries are remarkably full of possibilities and I am currently reveling in discovering as many of them as I can before I leave for graduate school.

What about you? Where do you go to get your books? And does that place offer you something more than just something to read?

NYTimes article about the history of the Ottendorfer
– Some interesting factoids about libraries (did you know they actually save lives?!) from the Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries
– A really cute little feature from the American Booksellers Association about why booksellers love selling books (to you, perhaps, should you grace their little indie bookstores with your presence)


Entry filed under: Musings and Essays. Tags: , , .

Discussion Questions: Nine Stories Discussion Post: Nine Stories

10 Comments Add your own

  • 1. KT  |  January 27, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    I love libraries because I can request just about any book for FREE! I don’t have to spend a fortune on a book I might hate, or feel guilty about a brand-new book sitting on my shelf unread. For example, I currently have three unread library books in a pile in the corner of my room. Had I paid for them, I would feel extremely guilty and build up terrible book karma for myself! As it is, I can get to them when I get to them — if ever.

    That said, I am a terribly visual person and I like bookstores solely because I can pick out the exact cover or edition of a book without having to settle for the library’s battered copies with the 1970’s dust jackets. And I think you remember how I feel about Hodges Figgis and Chapters — bookstores, especially independent ones, are among my favorite places to be.

    • 2. Corey  |  February 3, 2010 at 6:11 am

      I agree completely. Libraries take the pressure off and allow so much more experimentation in terms of reading. It’s just freedom all over the place!

      Picking the perfect cover is something I get more concerned with when I know I love the book. When I’m wandering through a library, the visual surely impacts my decision to look at something, but I don’t think I would be terribly put off of a random book at the library because of its cover. (Although then if I ended up loving it, I would be stuck with the visual memory of that cover–my first read of the text–forever, which would be more of an issue. When buying a copy, would I honor the memory of the ugly library copy or find the perfect cover?! Ack!)

  • 3. silverseason  |  February 3, 2010 at 4:12 am

    When I was a student there, the University of Michigan had (and I’m sure still has) a vast library system. Somehow, after several years, I qualified for a stack permit. This powerful permit allowed me to roam the stacks for my books, instead of waiting for delivery at the desk.

    The only downside was getting distracted from my initial purpose and coming away with too many books.

    • 4. Corey  |  February 3, 2010 at 6:12 am

      Absolutely! I had the same problem at Smith, actually! I would go in for one thing and then get completely distracted over something else. At one point, I think I went in for info on the American Revolution and ended up spending an afternoon working my way through the diaries of Mlle. de Montpensier (pre-French Revolution!). When I’m not too worried about schoolwork, I rather like getting lost in stacks. :)

  • 5. Britney  |  February 3, 2010 at 4:35 am

    I love touching books, reading the cover descriptions, and taking them home with me immediately. This is why I don’t spend a lot of time browsing at the library (I only let myself do it SOMETIMES. I’m usually better with bookstores because I can’t afford to take that stack home at full price).

    But I’ve found myself spending a lot of time at I spend hours on the discussion forums, discussing books I’ve read and finding more books I’d like to read, and I love this extension of the internet. I do find that many people on the forums have, in my opinion, poor taste (Sookie Stackhouse is enjoyable in doses but not great; I can’t fathom why all these people love Twilight) but I still find folks who have similar tastes in different genres, and who, most of all, love to read. And the swapping feature of the site often provides nearly-instant gratification (you may be able to order the book immediately but have to wait for media mail to deliver it).

    That said, I love that libraries are usually free, provide so much more than just things to read (I am way too cheap for a Netflix subscription and don’t mind waiting a month for new release DVDs – after all, I can occupy myself in the meantime with books!) but the closest library to me is a tiny branch library with a very small selection (I can have books delivered to me from other libraries, but the smallness is not very conducive to browsing). When the weather warms I’m going to have to explore one of the larger, nicer libraries that’s slightly further away – and one of these days I’m going to get a new Boston Public Library card so I can also take advantage of their library system.

    • 6. Corey  |  February 3, 2010 at 6:15 am

      Wow, sounds great! I’ll have to check it out. Does it work geographically so you arrange to immediately swap? Do tell!

      Yeah, I agree that having a tiny local library can be quite the downer. The library in Williamsville is cute, but rarely has anything worth checking out, so it becomes more of a hang-out for me than a place to actually get books, which more-or-less defeats the purpose of the library!

      • 7. Britney  |  February 3, 2010 at 3:19 pm

        PBS isn’t really geographically oriented. It operates on a first-in first-out system, so if you’re requesting Pride and Prejudice the request goes to the first person to list the book in the system, even if the third person in line is your neighbor while person 1 is on the other side of the country. Theoretically, you could swap geographically by finding members who live near you, but it’s a lot more work.

      • 8. Corey  |  February 4, 2010 at 6:04 am

        Ah, I see. So everyone just pays for postage and it all evens out. Sounds awesome!

  • 9. A bookish visitor « Literary Transgressions  |  April 6, 2010 at 12:08 am

    […] was so proud of myself lately because I rediscovered libraries, which means as many free books as I can carry. But, while I do love libraries, there is something […]

  • […] read, but one requiring a serious time commitment! And it gave me one more example of the amazing serendipitous possibilities at libraries. Share this:EmailTwitterFacebookStumbleUponLike this:Like2 bloggers like this […]


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