Libraries and Starting My Own?

A look at how libraries and librarians have shaped my life, and how I want to stay connected with them.

This article was tagged with: Reading

There are 1243 words in this article, and it will probably take you less than 7 minutes to read it.

This article was published 2023-05-09 00:00:00 -0400, which makes this post and me old when I published it.


Libraries and Me

When I lived in Arlington, I was within walking distance of a library, which I tried to take advantage of, but I was ultimately too busy or lazy to do. I love libraries and have much respect for librarians, my grandmother was a school librarian for over forty years. In middle school, I was friends with our school librarian, Ms. McNabb. Whenever the school media center got new books, she would always tell me about them and ask me ask if I had read them before, to which many times I would respond, “Yes” very sheepishly. My high school librarian didn’t really like me that much because I would always hang out in the library with my friends and we would eat in there sometimes. Fast forward to post-college graduation and my next substantive library interactions are in arcing. When I went to Arlington Public Library to get my library card I made sure to bring some extra chocolate toffee bark to offer the librarians since it was the holiday season. She seemed really shocked that I wanted to give something to her, but she was very thankful and said that librarians could always use some more sugar, I imagine especially during the holiday time when I was visiting.

The Importance of Libraries

I don’t have anything to say that hasn’t already been said before better about the importance of libraries, but I’ll link it two main ideas.

Libraries Increase Access To Information and Other Services: Increased access to books has been linked to increased literacy, but also libraries have so much more than books. Some libraries rent out records, art, STEM learning materials, and all kinds of other things. Some libraries have makerspaces with 3D printers, laser cutters, lathes, and a plethora of other tools that enable creativity.

Libraries as a Third Space: Third spaces can be defined as “a place that is separate from the two usual social environments of home and the workplace”. I urge you to do your own research, but this article is a good place to start.

Buying/Collecting Books

Another reason why libraries are so important to me was because I grew up not really ever buying books and I wouldn’t really get them for Christmas all that much either. This meant that all the books that I was reading was coming from a library, whether it by the county library, or the one from my school. A big part of why I didn’t buy books was because I read so fast and I don’t re-read books. I know that a lot of readers or other media consumers have a comfort piece of media that they like to return to in different times in their life to reindulge in a piece of content that really resonated with them. I don’t really do this and don’t like rereading or rewatching things. This is mainly because I don’t really like repeating myself, like if I’m going on a walk, I don’t like to take the same exact route back most times, it gets too monotonous. Since I never bought books growing up I had a reverence for books never dog-eared them, annotated them, etc.

So in this way, I see libraries as “try before you buy”. I know that there are a plethora of piracy sites where you can download books that would achieve this “trial period” for books in the same way, but moral considerations aside of piracy, I don’t really like reading ebooks. I can read web novels which are written online and almost written for it to be read online, but I don’t really like reading long form content on my phone, it just doesn’t sit well with me. I don’t just want to blindly buy books just because it sounds cool or because it has a pretty cover because those kinds of things have lured me in before, but then they’ll just sit on my shelf forever and collect dust, or worse, be kind of a letdown. So I want to be able to read a book, and then if I like it or think that other people in my network would like it, I would go to a local independent bookstore and buy the book in order to support local business. Since I live near a Metro station, I can easily go into DC and go to a number of different independent bookstores, of which my favorite is Kramers because I really like their cafe Afterwords. I’ll also frequent thrift stores or secondhand bookstores to look for niche or random books that I wouldn’t have otherwise bought or found.

Collecting Books With A Purpose

I have books now that I have bought over the years, but I won’t to be more intentional about it now. Like I want to collect books that have death or and love & relationships as a theme, and these can be fiction or non-fiction books.  Collecting books is a different hobby than reading them! This is a common joke in the book community, but I do really think that it has a grain of truth to it. I have a lot of books that I bought that I found interesting and may or may not ever get around reading them.

Currently Own:

  • The Arc of a Scythe by Neal Shusterman
  • Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner
  • I Want to Die But I Want to Eat Tteokboki by Baek Se-hee

Wishlist:

  • Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman
  • The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
  • Death (The Art of Living) by Todd May
  • The Trouble with Being Born by Emil M. Cioran
  • The Post Mortal by Drew Magary
  • They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera

Starting My Own “Library”

I cataloged my books with an online service called Libib and want to allow my friends and family to “check” the books out. I think a valid next question would be, “Why wouldn’t they just go to a library?” For one, I am lending to people that I trust within my personal network, so I can lend them for unlimited time, or at the very least, a much longer time than libraries are able to. So while that answers the question of why they don’t need to use the library, why shouldn’t I just use the library and not buy books? Well for one, I want to be able to support local bookstores, authors, etc by buying books, and its my money, you can’t tell me what to do! This is very much post-hoc rationalization because the main thing is that I know that I won’t re-read books, so by lending these books, they are able to get more use and reads than if they were just sitting pretty on my shelf. Additionally, I get to share specific books that mean something to me with the people I care about. I think of it as a book club over a longer period of time. You get to talk about a book that you read before with someone, but on a far more asynchronous timeline. I think that to complete the librarian cosplay, I want to get library book pockets to put into all my books that I lend out to people so that people can write their names and I can keep track of who has read the book.


Other Reading Articles

My Favorite Books

A list of my favorite books and book series.

My Reading Journey

An exploration of how my attitudes and habits toward reading have changed over time.


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