Why Libraries Are Awesome

Hey guys! Welcome to a new blog post! Today I’m going to be talking about libraries: why I love them, and why you should, too.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the feeling of buying a brand-new book and bringing it home with you, or ordering a book online and getting to have a mini Christmas gift unboxing when the package shows up and you have inevitably forgotten what exactly it was you ordered. But, well, we all know that sometimes that loving feeling goes away fast, and you’re left with a book you aren’t actually sure you’ll ever read/didn’t really like sitting on your bookshelves indefinitely.

Enter libraries. They’re essentially the clothing store dressing rooms of the bookish world, and they’re amazing. Here are some reasons why:

1. THEY’RE FREE.

As some of you might know, I am a college student, double majoring in French and Writing, and so I don’t exactly have a ton of extra cash to spend on books. I usually try to only let myself pay full price for a book I’m pretty sure I’m going to love—because I like the author, or the book has gotten a lot of high ratings, etc.—and for the rest of the books I read, I buy the (generally cheaper) e-book, buy a physical copy used/discounted for some reason—or I rent them from the library.

Of these, the method I try first is usually the library—because, of course, why would I go and buy a book when I have a chance to borrow it for free?

What’s even better than the fact that they’re free, though, is that a lot of libraries, including the one in the town I live in, also have an online library through Overdrive, so you don’t even have to leave your house if you don’t want to. Just download the app (after making sure your local library offers an online catalog, of course), select your library, enter your library card number, and bam! You can borrow free ebooks from anywhere (even, I can attest, in a different country—I’ve used it several times while I’ve been on study abroad here in France). And it’s not just ebooks—a lot of the time, they have audiobooks, too!

2. THEY BROADEN YOUR READING HORIZONS.

I don’t know about you all, but I’m the kind of person who tends to fall into a sort of rut when it comes to my entertainment. I watch the same movies and TV shows and YouTube videos over and over again, and I read books by the same authors over and over again. This is made even worse by the fact that, like I said earlier, I’m wary of buying books by authors I don’t already know/trust. Libraries give me a chance to break out of that reading rut.

After all, with a library book, there is no commitment. You get the book for two weeks, you read it, and if you don’t like it, it’s fine, because it’s going back at the end of those two weeks. And if you loved it, well, you can always go and buy your own copy if you want to. It gives me the chance to try books and authors I might never have otherwise read, and by doing so, maybe discover some new faves.

There are so many books I can think of that I originally read through the library and have now come to adore—the Leviathan series by Scott Westerfeld, the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, and the Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer, just to name a few. Who knows if I ever would have gotten around to reading those books without having had the opportunity to try them out through the library?

3.THEY’RE A GREAT PLACE TO MAKE CONNECTIONS.

This point is obviously less related to the books themselves, but rather with the people who interact with said books. A lot of libraries have book clubs or other activities than can introduce you to other readers in your community. Having bookish friends is always a good thing, and if you’re like me and not many of your real-life friends and family like to read, maybe you can change that by going to some local library activities. Or volunteering.

I was a weekly volunteer at my local library for about three years while I was in high school, and during that time, I got to get to know the librarians and some other volunteers. I got to learn a lot about how libraries work. And it was also in part that experience as a volunteer at that library that eventually got me my student job at the library in my university.

4. THEY HAVE SO MUCH MORE TO OFFER THAN JUST BOOKS.

These other things, admittedly, aren’t something that I take advantage of very often, because I have both wi-fi and computer access at my house (otherwise running this blog might be a little difficult). But for people who maybe don’t have a computer, or don’t have reliable Internet, the library could be a great place to go. A lot of libraries also offer special online services to their card holders, like for example, at my local library, a free Ancestry.com subscription and free language learning software. A lot of libraries also offer printing and copying services (though, at least where I’m from, you have to pay a small fee for those), and they have study rooms to use if you need them. Even without all those extra perks, though, perhaps the most important thing libraries offer is simply a quiet place to go hang out and really focus on your task.

I’ve always found that I have so much trouble making myself be productive when I’m at home, so having a place I can go to enter that focused mode, like a library, is a lifesaver for me.

***

There you have it! Four reasons why I think libraries are magical places that everyone should go to, whether they like books or not (though I really suggest you give books a try; they’re pretty cool). It makes me sad how few people seem to use libraries these days, and it makes me even sadder to think about the fact that there are a lot of places in the world where libraries are a lot rarer than they are where I’m from in the U.S.

Libraries are great. This has been a PSA. If you have a library near you, go check it out. I think you’ll be pleased with what you find.

Thanks for reading, everyone! Let me know down in the comments what your favorite things about libraries are, or a book you originally read from a library. I’ll see you soon!

-Ariel

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