Are You a Library Person?
December 05, 2007
Over at the Constant Reader group at Goodreads, someone asked, "Are you a bookstore person or a library person?" This was my reply.
I grew up going to the library and getting big stacks of books to take home. In my Southern city we had both a big Carnegie library downtown and a convenient neighborhood branch. The downtown library was across the street from the bus station, a Sears, and the YWCA, so I considered the whole experience of borrowing books there to be very cosmopolitan.
For a while when my son was younger I bought tons of books at the local Goodwill store for a song. Then I realized we just had too many books, we weren't reading them all, and I took 25 paper bags full of books (grownups' and kids') back to Goodwill and the local library for its annual sale.
I use my New England town's public library a lot, and I'm lucky because it has a nice-sized acquisitions budget. And what isn't available can be ordered through inter-library loan. I've pretty much gotten over having to have all my books around me, though quite a few manage to creep into our house and clutter our shelves. I weed books several times a year.
In my hometown, the Carnegie library became a state office building and the Sears became the flagship Eudora Welty Library. Every time I go in there when I visit I expect to smell candy and peanuts at the entrance. And I still feel a little cosmopolitan just to be downtown.
My first love was the library, and my first ambition (after cashier) was to be a librarian. I hardly ever go to the library anymore, but the smell of a library still excites me more than any bookstore. I like to browse the shelves and stacks, and am put off by having to use a computer instead of asking a nice gray-haired lady for what I want. And I know what you mean about the main downtown library (mine was in Cleveland)--so sophisticated.
Posted by: MJN/NYC | December 05, 2007 at 10:57 AM
I'm a bit of split personality on this one. I love libraries, but I like to own the books, too. I have fond childhood memories of both riding my bike to the library in my home town and scouring used bookstores with my mother. These days I have so many review books in my house that I frequently go to the library to volunteer, and end up not bringing any books home.
Posted by: Jen Robinson | December 05, 2007 at 12:16 PM
MJN, yes, that wonderful smell of books. I love it.
Jen, I would have loved to ride my bike to the library, but even the branch was on too busy a road. I've often thought of doing it now! It would certainly save fuel...
Posted by: Susan T. | December 05, 2007 at 07:08 PM
Every time I get interviewed for a job, whoever's interviewing me always asks why I became a librarian. I always say it's because no one would pay me to read all day and I feel better when I'm surrounded by all the books. People always laugh like I'm joking, but it's true. I borrow most of the books I read from the library where I work, but, of course, I buy a lot of the books for the library, too--so it kind of fulfills both needs. Not that I don't buy books for my home--I just tend to be selective about it.
Posted by: adrienne | December 05, 2007 at 08:27 PM
I live 4 doors down from our library, and we go there a lot because a. it's warmer/cooler and b. my home computer hates blogger! And we always go home with books. It's interesting to see what the boys pick for themselves--Arsnic, anyone? I have now read it twice.
But on the other hand, I find it very comforting to be surrounded by my own books. Plus, if you put floor to ceiling bookshelves on north faceing walls, it keeps the house warmer.
Posted by: Charlotte | December 06, 2007 at 09:59 AM
I, too, love both the library and the bookstore. I own way to many books, but there is something special about having books around you always, you know, in case you want to verify something or to touch a favorite. I love the Welty library!
Posted by: Wisteria | December 06, 2007 at 11:48 AM
Adrienne, you get the best of both--all the books plus the deciding what to buy!
Charlotte, wow, I would love to live that close to our library. As it is, I'm there several times a week. Lucky you!
Wisteria, I am so hoping that the renovation of the King Edward Hotel brings new life to downtown Jackson. Wouldn't that be wonderful!
Posted by: Susan T. | December 06, 2007 at 02:06 PM
We too are blessed with being within walking distance of both a library and a good bookstore. We love going to both! I rarely buy books for my home though,unless they are gifts. I love interlibrary loan and informal book exchanges. I have another blessing; a library job with a large book budget. The best of both worlds indeed!
I can still remember the exact day I got my first library card. I was five years old and stuck home with the mumps the week I finally learned to write both my first and last names; the requirement for getting a library card. My mom brought mine home with a stack of books expertly picked out just for me. When I close my eyes I can see it sitting on the mantle above the fireplace in our old living room.
Posted by: cloudscome | December 07, 2007 at 12:00 PM
I have so many wonderful memories of my mom taking me to our tiny local branch library as a kid...she'd enroll me in all those summer reading programs, and make sure I had a nice stack of books to read every week. I can still remember winning some kind of little dinosaur-related toys...
Since TadMack and I started blogging book reviews, I've fallen in love with the library all over again (since I just can't BUY all those books--and my husband wouldn't let me, anyway!!). We're lucky to have a pretty darn good county library in town, and a handful of branches with a good interlibrary loan system. I try to limit my book buying to a) things I can't find at the library, and b) things I know I will want to read again.
Posted by: a. fortis | December 07, 2007 at 02:37 PM
Cloudscome and A. Fortis, I've so enjoyed hearing about everyone's experiences at the library. I can remember my card and my mom's, too. Isn't that funny! Maybe I had to use hers to check out adult book? I don't know. I hear there's a nice piece in the Wall St. Journal today about a writer's remembrance of the Donnell Library in NYC.I don't think it's available online, though.
Posted by: Susan T. | December 07, 2007 at 03:30 PM
What a great question! I'm a bookstore person - love the noise, the newness, the sense of first person cracking the book's spine open... and the cash register!
Posted by: Kyra | December 26, 2007 at 01:08 PM
Hi, Kyra. I have to admit that I was in several different bookstores over the holidays and had a great time amid all the newness.
Posted by: Susan T. | December 26, 2007 at 06:32 PM