Thursday, February 19, 2009

Library

What is a great love of books? It is something like a personal introduction to the great and good men of all past times. Books, it is true, are silent as you see them on their shelves; but, silent as they are, when I enter a library I feel as if almost the dead were present, and I know if I put questions to these books they will answer me with all the faithfulness and fulness which has been left in them by the great men who have left the books with us. ~ John Bright

Have you ever been shushed at the library? As if your whispers will awaken the spirits contained within the pages. Or maybe this space is reserved for the voices that ring loudly within their bindings. I love to read, and will try just about anything I find on the shelf. It's like a new adventure, getting lost in some one's thoughts and musings.

Tara takes Cole to story time each week at our local library. Each time I go, it makes me sad as it seems more like Death Valley than a thriving repository of knowledge. A few mom's with kids, and the unemployed researching jobs on the free computers. Just down the road, the Barnes & Noble is thriving. Maybe libraries should start serving coffee?

Are libraries going the way of roadside attractions? What are they missing?

20 comments:

tut-tut said...

How sad! You know, libraries ARE adding cafes etc. here, but with the downturn in the economy, I don't think they need to do much to attract patrons at this point.

Daniel said...

I have been to the NN library on Main St. a couple of times. What an out-of-date, depressing, understocked, understaffed, ripped up, and torn apart, hole of a place this is. Without an influx of new funds, it will continue to wither, continue to become less and less relevant. Tis a bit of shame. With just a little bit more, they could provide something so special, so needed.

nessabates said...

With the economy being the way it has I think that people will soon be turning back to the library instead of Barnes & Nobles.

I hardly ever visit the library myself. I have a computer at home and buy from used book stores.

Great thoughts...I enjoyed reading :)

willow said...

Our downtown branch has a cafe and a coffee shop. And even though our small local branch doesn't have any refreshments, the parking lot is always full and the inside bustling!

mouse (aka kimy) said...

i love how so many of us bring up getting 'lost' in the library....it's like one of those zen riddles though because when we get lost in a library we find so much!

enjoyable post! thank you!!

Colette Amelia said...

I am finding myself overwhelmed in libraries these days. Could be the vast amount of stimulation that short circuits the brain.

I am also a little paranoid to talk lest my "special voice" cause a disturbance.

I am feeling a little pinched these days so if there is any reading that will be done it will have to be with a book that is loaned from the library.

great thought provoking post!

Roy said...

It's a shame that your library seems so desolate. Ours is always bustling, and the parking lot at least nearly full, no matter what time of day. I always have a wait at the check-out desk.

Given the economy, though, I have a feeling you'll see your library stat to fill up again.

Brian Miller said...

Thanks for all the great comments. Personally I enjoy the library. I do wish ours would upgrade in some ways. Probably not going to happen in the near future. I do imagine on the flip side they will start to get more patronage as the economy is tough.

Rob said...

One thing our local library could add is some nice freshener. All those old books stink.

subtorp77 said...

I'm with tut-tut on this. And the libraries are taking full advantage of the 'net, faster than the newsies. It's good you can go at least once a week, Brian. Besides, I have better luck finding things at the library, I usually don't have to wait in line, no cafe( I'm there for books not a cuppa )and no moolah need you have( unless there's a book sale on ).

runmotman said...

Our Ft.Wayne libraries have all been rebuilt, remodeled, etc and are really nice...but not terribly exciting...i check out a lot of books but don't enjoy hanging out there...
does anyone remember the book mobiles that would visit the neighborhoods once a week? As a kid i loved those days of crowding into the mobile and finding a fun picture book to keep and read for a week.

Cuppa Jo said...

But is the B & N really thriving? Or is it just full of people browsing or drinking coffee but not buying or reading books, etc.? It is sad when libraries aren't full of people. Hmmm, I should probably go there right now; it's only a few blocks from home...

Dot-Com said...

Yes, actually I have been shushed at in a library. A university library, none the less. Not that long ago either. I was there to deliver a training course, but some students outside could hear what we were saying and sent some staff in to tell us to be quiet.

Cinnamon said...

Ah coffee- the library would be buzzing, but the 'ghosts' would move out.
I didn't like going to the library as a child- it was dilapidated and the books were frayed and faded and uninspiring. I only redicovered it when i took my children to 'story time'. Things had moved on by then and it was a great outing.

Megan said...

Yes, I've been shushed - it was only a few weeks ago, too!

I haven't been to the main library yet (you have to pay to park!) but my little neighborhood branch is usually pretty full.

Kris said...

Our library system in Tasmania is doing a great job in remaining relevent, I feel. They've embraced the IT revolution, and remain a hub of learning, entertainment and social life. It makes me happy to see that attendence and use of the library is going up while video stores are closing down left, right and centre (and yes, the library has a LOT of DVDs to loan).

Kelsey said...

I think they'll be picking up when people realize THERE'S NO MONEY LEFT!!!

hehe.

Our libraries here in Santa Cruz are AMAZING. I could sit in the sun and bask like a cat all day long.. now if they could just get a nicer smell into those pages.

-Kels

Brian Miller said...

Funny, I am sitting in the library this morning. It is relatively quiet, but I noticed a few things I had not before. They do have coffee now, for $1.50. Maybe they read yesterday, lol. Maybe they will continue to grow, adapt and be bustling with life soon.

Dot-Com...lol

Cinnamon...I love taking the boys to storytime. This is a highlight of our library.

Runmotman...never got to experience the book mobile, but I imagine as a kid it to be a fantastical place. It would feel special to have someone bringing the treasure box of stories, just for you.

lettuce said...

its a sad and scary suggestion that books might not survive in the world of the www... i don't think i believe it tho

tony said...

funnily enough .our local public library HAS Just started selling coffee!

"As if your whispers will awaken the spirits contained within the pages......" Beautiful.
yes, many of us develop an "inner-shoosher"! It can go too far ,this Quiet business.......but mobile phones ARE a pain.
i hope libraries never get pushed out by WWW.The Tactile Environment is worth as much as the books themselves.