This week is National Library Week, and to honor the occasion, the blogosphere has decided to declare today (Monday) Library Appreciation Day! Woot! This is excellent news because I definitely appreciate my library. It is gorgeous, and right on the water! (Though I loved it even when it was a hot mess. You can probably tell it was renovated within the last ten years.) Check it out:
The library is an amazing place. Where else can you get free books? True, you don't own them forever, but it's even better, because you get to share the books with the people who came before and after you. Because of this sharing aspect, I have found letters and bookmarks inside my library books, and once I left $10 inside a book I loved for the next patron to find (a random act of kindness inspired by Heather Zundel).
Most of the library workers are very good to me. (Though there is one not-so-nice lady at the main branch, but I won't tell her story today.) A guy at the check-out desk at the main branch adjusted the due date on my late books once even though I returned them a day late, and he knew that they wouldn't get to checking them in until the next day, so he didn't want to charge me extra late fees. At the East Branch (another, smaller branch which is also very close to my house), a woman at the check-out once charged me half price for a used book because I was friendly to her, and she said that the world needed more people like me. Because of the library, I discovered a love for Garth Stein, The Overlander Series (Suzanne Collins' must-read pre-HG MG novels), Rick Riordan, Jim Dale, Patricia C. Wrede, Megan McCafferty, and Neil Gaiman (who, consequently, is the honorary chair of ALA's National Library Week). The library is my happy place. I love it so.
But the library isn't just about great books! Most libraries have career seminars, movie nights, Internet access, various classes, and even (OMG!!!) author appearances! When I was in high school, I even went to a swing dance class at my library, and had a very awkward encounter with a boy...then again, about 95% of my encounters with boys in high school were very awkward. If you never have, you should definitely check out your local library to see what's coming up on the calendar. For example, at various branches in my area, upcoming events include a Sherlock Holmes film festival, a writer's support group (hey! I didn't know about that! I might check it out...it's at 1PM on Wednesday, but I could go during my lunch break!), various book clubs, Zumba at the library!, and classes teaching Microsoft programs, drawing, interview skills, and chess strategies for children. Wow! And it's all FREE!!!
Sadly, many libraries across the country are facing budget cuts, staffing shortages, and even threats of closing. All of this while usage is up, especially among job-seekers and children - if you're interested in seeing numbers, check out the ALA fact sheet. You should show your support for your library by using it, and maybe even go a step further by donating, and writing or calling your local representative about how important your library is to you and your community.
Now, you tell me...do you use your library? Why or why not? What do you use it for? Just books, or do you hang out there, take classes, go to events, etc.? Why not take just five minutes to visit your library's Web site and see what events they have to offer? You might find something new and exciting! (I did! And I'm on my library's Web site all the time!)
And while we're appreciating libraries, check out this post from Market My Words - tell her why you appreciate libraries, and enter for some fab prizes!