I am in love with a place called the library.
Stepping into a library is like entering a new universe. It’s a place where books are respected and revered, where stories and imagination are encouraged. There’s a tense silence in the air that melts away when you open a book and get immersed in its world.
So I was surprised when I learned how few people actually like the library. Apparently, only 19% of Americans read for fun (and that number is dwindling). Is the library becoming extinct with the lack of readers and increase of digital reading? Why should we even have libraries around in 2018??
We’re going to decide together whether libraries are necessary to keep around as we examine the highs and lows of our favorite book temples. I present to you: the pros and cons of public libraries!
As sad as it is, we can’t spend all our hard-earned savings on great books. It’s so sad, I know. That’s where the library becomes our book obsession’s saving grace.
Can I say that again?
✨ fREE bOOOOks ✨
Bookdragons everywhere, rejoice, for the library has all the free books you could ever want. And, even better, they’re able to be used by people who don’t have any access to books! How awesome is that?! Point, library!
… but you don’t have them long
You might be able to have free books, but the time in which you have to read them is short. Two weeks to read several books is not long for a teenager in this age, and renewing books is annoying to other library patrons waiting for your books.
A fix for this problem would be to keep a loan time but stop loaning physical books. Instead, the library would be an online resource where you could ‘borrow’ books to read straight from your device. Since everyone would have their own individual copies, no one would inconvenience other people by renewing books.
There are some books that you actually don’t have to bring back. Libraries often have book sales for books that aren’t getting checked out or have been donated. Some of the books are free to keep!
While these sales are a bit of an adventure — you don’t know what you’re getting into until you’re already there — they can be useful in broadening your book preferences. You might find a new favorite author or one to avoid altogether!
the books are often damaged
Unfortunately, some people aren’t so gentle with the books they borrow. Library books tend to have their fair share and more of dog-ears, miscellaneous pen scribbles, and other questionable substances found seeping through the pages.
But, worse than that are the covers. The beautiful hardback covers, reduced to battered, sticker-full page armor! Even the free and cheap books they have aren’t in good condition. Library books are rarely ever good for photoshoots, so you have to buy your own, new copies for really nice pictures.
but we’re still gonna take pictures because heck they’re books & aesthetically pleasing
As I said in the introduction, libraries are just so refreshing. For me, the library is reminiscent of good memories: stopping by to grab a stack of comic books before Wednesday night church, renting a room to do homework in while our house was under renovation, and meeting other teen participants of NaNoWriMo 2017. I can walk through the children’s section and relive all my early book obsessions with Geronimo Stilton or Nancy Drew or Judy Moody.
Not only that; there’s the book smell, the Dewey Decibel signs on the shelves… the place just glows with a love for stories. It’s the ultimate reader/writer aesthetic and I love it?!
they aren’t relevant anymore
Libraries are important to non-bookish people for three main reasons — study, computer usage, and library events. Obviously, it’s not a problem to use the library’s resources. That’s what it’s there for anyway, to be used! But these three utilities can be provided without public libraries.
Firstly, almost all study nowadays is online. There are literally schools that don’t require you to purchase or borrow any books at all. As time goes on, the need for physical books to study is going to be almost nonexistent.
Not everyone has wi-fi or computers to use at home. Given how necessary they are to living in the 21st century, it’s nice to have a place that provides computers for free use. But plenty of schools have libraries* with computers, too.
There are buildings designed specifically for renting out, so libraries aren’t entirely necessary in that aspect. There’s always a way out of everything, so libraries aren’t really that essential.
*or, as i’ve been told they’re called now, ‘media centers’ 🙄
Libraries are freaking huge when you think about it. The small ones might only hold a hundred or so humans, but books are small. Four books (and then some) are equal to the height of one average-sized man, and that’s not even counting width. THAT’S A LOT OF BOOKS TO DEVOUR.
In addition to being huge, the library has a lot of different types of books so you can widen your selection and be diverse in your reading or something like that I need to address books & diversity soon whoops. I really appreciate the effort my library puts into accommodating books of all types, even the unusual ones.
… but not many unique books
Then there are the books they don’t have at the library.
Then there are those tricky little obscure books that, when you try to find them, whoops, AREN’T THERE!! ERROR 404 TRY AGAIN LATER.
And you will never be able to read those books for free. You have to go on flipping Amazon and buy a copy and wait a week for it to get to your house.
BUT YOU NEED THE BOOK NOW.
Seriously, there are so many books the library doesn’t offer. Not every book can be at the library,* but isn’t it disappointing when a book, especially a relatively popular book, isn’t at your branch? My library doesn’t have a very good selection, so I’m constantly left dealing with half-finished series, missing volumes, and I stiLL CAN’T FIND THE RAVEN BOYS ASDFGHJKL??!
*sadly, it is not a never-ending, consistently growing space portal holding every book in the universe.
it’s a bookish temple
In addition to the library being a reader’s dream world, it’s also very enjoyable in more practical ways. For one, libraries are often really cute with all the kids’ artwork on the walls of the children’s section until you get to the adult section and its all historic-y but nobody cares about that.
I’m going to throw stereotypes out the window and proclaim: LIBRARIANS ARE AWESOME! They are literally hired to think about books, talk about books, and be around books. Actually, everybody in the library’s cool. You can tell which ones are happy to be there with a billion books, and it’s comforting in a way to be surrounded by likeminded people like that! 😍
Finally, there are a bunch of great activities at the ‘brary. Writing, crocheting, movie watching, and baking are a few that I’ve seen on my library’s calendar. I was an active participant (for a month lol) in a knitting class and one of a few local NaNoWriMo writers. Not to mention, there are some great reading and writing challenges every now and then that are fun to take on!
The library has been a staple in countless towns for years upon years and should not be leaving anytime soon. There are too many upsides to a community library to take it away.
you actually have to go there
To get to this Book Temple, though, you have to physically go there. You know, a homeschooler’s worst nightmare. that was a joke dont hurt me homeschoolers
I don’t know about other counties, but my library doesn’t deliver books straight to your door (though that would be really cool — somebody do that!). Places without delivery are going out of business like you wouldn’t believe — exactly like how malls are beginning to disappear. Home delivery is how you stay alive in the service industry this generation.
Already the library is taking a downhill turn. It can’t be long before it’s overtaken by Audible, Kindle, and other book-renting companies.
Sequentially, I think libraries deserve a lot more love than they’re given. It was really hard to write arguments against my point. The library is awesome! FREE BOOKS!!
What about you? Do you think libraries will be gone soon, or will they hang onto their reign a while longer? What do you use your local library for? If libraries actually did go extinct, what would you miss most?