Weekly Geeks: Checking Out Libraries
I love libraries. Always have, always will. One of the first serious political arguments I had with my father was about how libraries are necessities and that even a staunch Libertarian like himself should be able to see that if libraries ever disappear, so will society.
I grew up about three blocks from our local library, but when I turned ten or so my parents began taking my sister and I to the Central branch of the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library twenty minutes away. This library, though small I’m sure in comparison with the central libraries of most other cities, seemed like a Book Utopia for my sister and I. There was a room — a whole room! — just filled with children’s books, and when I got older, I’d spend hours just wandering the first and second floors, grabbing any book that looked interesting.
The Central Library wasn’t the only library love I’ve had through the years. I had a short-lived job as a library page in middle school, and I spent many hours in my high school library when I was supposed to be in lunch.
My college years brought me closer to the Central Library (I was now living a mere ten minutes away by public transport), but I also grew to love the library at my school. Once senior year came around, I could most often be found in the newspaper office or in the basement of the Andrew L. Bouwhuis Library, drinking cappuccino from a vending machine and typing away madly, surrounded by books and color-coded Post-its.
In graduate school, my relationship with Trinity’s libraries became very serious. It wasn’t unusual for me to spend eight or more hours in the Lecky or Ussher libraries, pouring over volume after volume, wandering the literary criticism section, or (again) typing away madly, stopping only to frantically consult another hardback book. Most of the books I needed were in off-site storage, but that was more than made up for by the presence of Trinity’s oldest library.
I’m no longer a student, sadly, and I’m going through a bit of library withdrawal. After having the contents of a library of record virtually at my fingertips, going to my tiny local library is a bit of a come-down. Not that that keeps me away, of course. I still visit the place weekly, and I always end up carrying away more books than I really need.
Still, I miss my academic libraries (and the Central Library) with such a passion that sometimes I wonder if returning to them or something like them was my main motivation for applying to Ph.D. programs. Maybe I don’t really want to study nineteenth century literature at all, despite my apparent passion for the subject…maybe what I really want is just to sit in an enormous library again, typing away in the midst of all those books.
Please, share your library experiences in the comments below! Do you love libraries like we do?