...are wonderful places, and I'd completely forgotten that. That's probably because it's been years since I walked into one and needed its services.
About three weeks ago, we took A to the local library because she needed a book about Charlie Chaplin for a biography report she was doing. After finding something age appropriate with DH, B and I wandered the stacks a little bit and found her a Nancy Drew Notebook (Nancy Drew as a 3rd grader, IIRC) that she wanted to read.
We settled down, DH with his laptop, me with a George Carlin book (yes, sportswriter buddy, the "pork chop" book... DH found it and handed it to me), B with her Nancy Drew, and A with her report and we happily spent time reading and researching.
Before we left, A and I wandered off and procured library cards and checked all the books we had out before leaving. Last night we went back to return them. B didn't want to go, but she had to. You see, the last trip we didn't quite get the time to get B a library card, so engrossed in the book was she.
So yesterday afternoon, after school and work were done for the day, we all got in the car and went to the library and I watched B fill out all the little squares and get frustrated that there wasn't an eraser in sight for when she made a mistake. She wrote carefully and took her application up to the counter to get her card.
Oh boy, when she got that little barcoded shiny blue card, her smile lit up the room. We (being me and the Santa Clara County Library system) had just given her the keys to the kingdom. We went hunting for more Nancy Drews, and didn't find any, but I told Becca that we could search the system and put some on hold for her. Her eyes almost fell out of her face - she didn't know we could do that.
Of course, I've been a delinquent parent - she didn't know we could check books out of the library before either. She just thought that it was a great place to come and read books for a couple of hours once in a while. Go figure.
So, now, both my daughters have library cards, and I have my own too. It's about time. I've lived in this county for 13 years and I hadn't gotten a card yet, but then I've never had a qualm about buying a book that I was really interested in reading by a favorite author. I'm sure that won't change (much) but now I have an even bigger selection to choose from, all thanks to the public library.
I had a library card as a child in my hometown, and I bugged my mom constantly to take me to the library. As I recall, I don't think she had a library card, or if she did she never used it. Oh sure, she'd look at a magazine or something while I was there, but I always had to speed through the library and grab what I wanted pretty quick. It was a rare Saturday that I got to spend any real time at the library browsing the stacks and just being there for the sake of finding something new to read that was interesting to me. I think I wore that card out too - I used it all the time between the ages of 7 and 15. That's when I switched to another high school (boys high school and girls high school merged) and had *that* library to work with in terms of research and checking out books to read. College, same deal - I never had the need to go back to a public library because I had funds to buy books I was interested in (thank you Follett Corp for book discounts as a student) and all I ever needed a library for was research. I didn't realize how much I'd really missed it until last week and again last night.
So, if you have a chance to - go to the library. Or volunteer some time at one - our public libraries are suffering cutbacks all the time and that's just going to mean reduced hours and services for us. Heck, in my county, there are whole days that libraries aren't open anymore because of funding cutbacks, and a couple of other libraries have closed. That's not right - libraries are a valuable resource to all of us for research, for entertainment (not just books, but CDs and DVDs), and for a quiet and well lighted place to read. For that, I am eternally grateful...
...and I feel like I've gotten the keys to the kingdom too.