The Lost Romance of the Library

I have loved going to the library ever since I was a little kid.  I remember the public library where we lived when I was in grade school had a huge kids section (or at least it seemed huge to me at the time), and I felt like I could spend forever there.

One of the things I always thought was super cool about library books was that you could look on the inside of the cover and see all the date stamps for each time it had been checked out.  This told me how many times the book had been checked out before (and the thrill if I was the first one!), and how long it had been in the library.  It gave me more of a connection with the book, and somehow, a connection with everyone else who had read it.

Now the libraries have gone digital.  They scan your library card just like it’s a Kroger card, shoot a laser at the books you want to take home, and that’s it.  That’s.  It.  No satisfying thump as the book is stamped, just a dismal barcode stuck to the inside of the book along with a friendly message about how not returning a library book is theft.

A little bit of romance stolen by the digital age.  Sigh.  Now go buy my ebooks. 🙂

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10 Comments

Filed under Books

10 responses to “The Lost Romance of the Library

  1. Great post, and very true. The library was one of my favourite things, it was great to think of all those who had loaned books. Though I have to admit, I am a major reader of e-books now!

  2. How can we forget the love of escaping into the library. I grew up in rural America and when my mother made her once a week trip into town for grocery shopping (we lived so far away from town, there was no running back and forth) she’d drop me at the local library and I thought I’d found heaven on earth. I’ll always remember the limit was 10 books and soon I was also using my brother’s library card and I could pretend I was selecting 10 books for him also.
    I’ve long been gone from that Kansas library and unfortunately the elderly rural people receive no funds to keep their libraries open. The population base is not dense enough to receive federal funding of any kind. Although I’ve lived all over the world, each time I’d go home to visit my parents, the void of the library hurt. Finally, piece by piece, a spot of land was donated and then building supplies and then I found myself in a position wherein I could guarantee them delivery of 100 top selling NYT best selling books in all genres. That small Kansas library receives, on average, of 40 visitors a day and volunteers make weekly runs into the rural and isolated areas to discuss books and what-have-you with the elderly and other shut-ins and by all means to allow them to keep reading as an assortment of books and magazines are exchanged.
    We have managed to get a grant to purchase 100 e-readers and are over the moon about that. Look at everything we’ll be able to download.

  3. i literally RELY on libraries. Most of the books I “need” are too expensive for me to acquire, and Inter-library loan is my saving service of public good. The smells of libraries intoxicate me. Unfortunately the fact that the bulk of the books i read have never been used, or sometime in the 60s or 70s can now make me feel quite alone in the world…

    • While I love to but books when I can, my habits would get very expensive if I did it all the time. My three kids love to go just as much as I do, so there’s even more savings!

      • as with my 4 – plus there’s a little shop in ours that sells overstock for $0.25 – so they can save their pennies and still have the fun of “getting to keep”

  4. I remember the stamps and check out cards, too. And the smell of the old index cards in the card catalog. Now they have computer searches. Times have changed a lot

  5. Hehehe I enjoyed the twist ending.

    You’re right, I do remember libraries as being different from they now are. One of the best parts of taking a book out of my public school library was that the librarian was never around to date stamp the book, so I got to do it myself! It was the ultimate power trip.

    • Our library in high school was like that, and I loved it! I think I need to do another entire post on that awesome plastic covering they put over library books. It just screams, “Pick me up and read me!”

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