The Good and The Bad of Library Borrowing

Two direct results of being an Anne Rice fan since middle school: I read plenty of vampire fiction during my adolescence; and I’ve often and sporadically pontificated the idea of immortality. For the years that have passed, and the changes that have been made, my best personal answer remains the same. Immortality would be most useful for reading. For reading everything I’ve ever wanted. For reading everything that existed before I existed. For reading everything that came out last Tuesday. For reading everything printed since I’ve existed. For reading everything that will exist, but does yet not.

I’m reminded of this fantasy-opinion of mine each time I walk into my local library.

Think of it: an entire subset of people that, as long as there are words down in black and white in some form, could never die. We (because I would be one of them) would be called Readers. We would pose no harm or threat to anyone else, and walk among all other beings — both mortal and immortal — without experiencing any degree of assault ourselves.

Also, I just really like my public library, how I feel good-lost when I am there, inspired as a writer, reader, and artist all at once. Like there is adventure waiting in every stack. Because there is.

Truly you can find pretty much anything that you’re looking for, especially if you have a really decent, well-funded library, like we are fortunate to have.

Over the summer, I found myself drawn to the ‘New’ section that my library has set up in the front, not far from the check-out area. That magnetism developed into a habit. As my husband accompanied our daughter to Monday evening storytime, I would bee-line to those shelves, soaking in each title, and even snapping shots of front covers with my phone for easy borrowing reference later.

A decent library is a guarantee that you’ll discover writers and books that you might not have otherwise. Even if you still haven’t begun to check out any of the titles you took cover pictures of during the last four months.

I’ve realized, too, even while missing the particular experience that is browsing and buying in a bookstore, that not only am I saving money, but I’m beginning to acquire more space. Libraries allow you to be an aunt (or uncle) of reading, as in, you visit with the books, and/or various media for awhile, but then they go back home where they belong.

Clearly, I have fallen in love — or at least have a healthy and active crush — with my library all over again. In spite of this, the downsides have occurred to me, as well.

Because I am a former teller, sometimes the sharing of books with invisible strangers makes me think of money changing hands, often also with invisible strangers: dirty, dirty, dirty. I am not a germophobe, but what *did* the last person do that left a stain on page 11 of this book? Is it from food? Was it…*gag* was it in the bathroom with them? I try not to think on this for too long, or for too often.

Just as I try to not read the same books as everyone else, at the same time especially. That doesn’t mean that other people adhere to the same modus operandi. When this applies, a numbers game begins. I can’t stand numbers games. Upon the initial act of borrowing, you are also graciously issued two renewals. Either one or both are revoked if another patron or several are suddenly or already were waiting in an electronic queue to read the same book/watch the same DVD/listen to the same CD. This switcharoo of allotted borrowing time is anxiety-inducing for me, as I feel rushed straight off, knowing that there is a possibility that I won’t have as long as I need in order to get all the way through and fully enjoy any given item.

However much I wish for more time, the realization occurs over and over again that there isn’t a chance in hell that I will ever become immortal in order to read all those books. All those interesting, eye-opening, educational, fun, diverse, beautiful, wonderful books upon books upon books.


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7 responses to “The Good and The Bad of Library Borrowing

  1. Kat

    I am in agreement here. I share your love of reading and libraries and your “not gonna think too hard about the possible germs” and time squeeze that comes with due dates. Thanks for the reminder of the library as a stress reliever. I can spend hours wandering around, looking up any number of topics, and feeling my blood pressure lowering and myself relaxing. 🙂

  2. I love this use of immortality!

    • Haha! 😀 Thanks. As I said in the post, the best reason I could think of over the 20+ years I’ve been pondering a reason.

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting, Christy. I hope you enjoyed the post enough to visit the blog further to read the archives and new pieces as I publish them.

  3. I love libraries. Our college had an old one with orange tiles on the roof and big wooden tables with lamps with green shades on them. A larger, more modern section had been attached, but we always like the older part. We used to call it the “love story section.” When you spoke of immortality, though. I couldn’t help but think, of Mr. Bemis from that Twilight Zone episode, the only one left alive on earth with a library full of books, who now has all the time in the world to read them: . If the embed doesn’t work in the comments field, the link, for your pleasure, is here:

    • Well, Paula, that was a treat, as I had never seen that clip…until the end! I am actually supposed to wear glasses, which are never on my face. (I abhor them on me.) My fate could be similar. Like maybe a Hitchcockian bird swoops upon me in the same moment and deftly pecks out both eyes. Punishment from the vision gods for rebelling in spite of knowing better. Or my eyes could simply give out on me. Either way, you’re telling me: your wish is fruitless, kid.

      Your college library sounds lovely. I will not hopefully pine to ever see it, as some horror is surely attached. 😉

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