With the advent of the internet, e-readers, amazon, and even Starbuck’s or your favorite local coffee shop as the “third” place to be besides work or home, it may be argued that our local library has lost a bit of its relevance and appeal. Well after several trips to my local library, which, I’ve recently discovered, is the regional library for the city’s north side, I very much disagree.
I love libraries, I think I always have. The hushed quietness, the privacy and coziness found in those little carols, the smell of all those books! Just simply knowing that so much information, so much knowledge, was literally at your fingertips gives me the itch to learn. I was reminded of these feelings a couple weeks ago when my 2 year old daughter and I walked into the Sulzer Regional Library to get our library card – the first one I have had, I’m embarrassed to say, since I can’t even remember when.
The process was easy and swift , then off we trotted to the children’s section. Tables for the little ones strewn with books, puzzles and crayons and a random array of toys pulled little Rachel into the spirit of the library – engagement, learning, discovery. Why had I stayed away so long?
After a bit of playtime, it was up the shiny, polished stairs to the second floor to retrieve the book Mommy had come for. With my reference number in hand, I scanned the shelves and gradually zoomed in to what I needed. How had I gone so long without that satisfying feeling of homing in on the exact item you needed, among thousands of books? Then, since Rachel wasn’t quite as particular as I about the books she wanted to pull from the shelves and hasn’t quite yet perfected her “inside voice”, we headed back down the stairs.
The checkout line seemed long, but moved quicker than any other line I’d been in lately. Plus, alongside the line were the shelves that the books being held for people to pick up were kept, giving Rachel the chance to show everyone in line how well she knew her letters! (Cue proud look on Mommy’s face). Sauntering out the door feeling accomplished and satisfied, I knew we’d be back.
The next trip to Sulzer was for DVD’s for Rachel to keep her occupied on a flight to Philly we had that weekend. It took a bit of digging, but I found Baby Galileo, Thomas the Train, Emmett Otter’s Jugband Christmas and The Snowy Day. It was only when I got to the checkout counter that I discovered I was limited to only 2 DVD’s because I had gotten my library card less than 30 days prior! Slightly disappointed at the time? Yes – but at least I know they are there if I want them; and, as it turned out, she barely even got through Thomas the whole weekend we were away.
After all was said and done, I am now an official and proud library-card carrying resident of the 47th Ward who loves her local, regional library. Sure, you may not be able to enjoy a cup of coffee while you read or have a book appear on the table in front of you in a matter of seconds. But what you do get is a quiet stillness, a respect for and appreciation of the millions of books waiting to be discovered, and a place to be in your community that offers something foreveryone…my 2 year old little girl included.