I have no doubt I inherited by love of reading from both my parents. But I’m just as positive that libraries had something to do with it as well.
First, is the smell of libraries. Any bibliophiles knows that smell—paper and ink are the scent of adventure and the font of knowledge.
All you need is a library card. And I’ve had one since I was 8. I was limited to the number of books I could check out, and every week I checked out exactly that number.
Libraries have been around since civilizations began. Not surprising as to advance you have to have someplace where information can be shared. But not all libraries were free and open to the public.
Benjamin Franklin started a subscription library in the 1700s. And for fans of regency romances, we all know about subscription libraries in England. Those involved the customers paying a fee to check out books, essentially limiting the patrons to those wealthy enough to spare the change.
And then there is my favorite: Public libraries.
In truth, we all pay for these through our taxes and in the early days with support from the wealthy who needed an educated workforce. And in true democratic fashion, everyone can enter and check out a book if you live within the tax paying area.
Furthermore, public libraries have been around since before the American Revolution. Some cites as far back at 1713. Certainly Thomas Paine’s Common Sense wouldn’t added tinder to the fire of freedom if few had been able to read.
I currently have 3 library cards—the city were I live, the county where I live, and the city where I work. My alumni dues also mean I can check out books from the University where I graduated. I have used all three to acquire research books. And each of them smell the same and cause my pulse to quicken with excitement.
I no longer browse the stacks searching for titles that catch my eye as I did not to long ago. Instead, I have books that I want shipped to my local branch and am notified by email when they are ready.
Libraries are better than amazon and easier on my wallet. And thanks to the foresight of librarians, they’ve expanded into movies and music. They’ve added computers for job searches and public use and meeting rooms where knowledge can be shared to inspire tomorrow’s innovators.
Until next time.