We’ve had a rocky relationship over the years. When I was little, you stocked my mother up with Paul Goble and Billy and Blaze for me. Then you loaned me plenty of Beatrix Potter and Dr. Seuss. You let me read about Ramona and allowed me to explore Welsh mythology. I wandered away from you for awhile. Your offerings didn’t really keep up with my academic interests, but then I discovered your collegiate incarnations and your databases that let me find articles about fantastical elements in Jane Eyre and run around the foreign language section with my friends looking up words in obscure languages. When I actually got to college, I discovered your archives, your rolling stacks, your timed lights, and your half forgotten cataloging systems. You helped me rediscover children’s books with a copy of The Twenty-One Balloons.
Amazon and Barnes and Nobles on every corner came along and I admit it, I forgot about you for a little while. But now we’re back together and I hope we don’t break up for a long time. Without you, I literally could not afford to homeschool my kids. Sure, you provide them with cheap Secrets of Droon novels and Cynthia Rylant readers. If I had to, I could get those at the store or even on a Kindle. You save me money on my own young adult novel reading habit and let me sample books left and right. But most importantly, you have books for children, many of which are out of print and most of which do not have electronic editions yet (if they will ever). You let us read out of print books like Cranberry Thanksgiving and Anno’s Math Games. You let me find the Young Math Books, the MathStart books, the Boston Children’s Museum Activity Books, the Janice VanCleave science books, the Let’s Read and Find Out books. You led me to Builders of the Old World and let the kids hear biographies by Demi and Diane Stanley. You have copies of new books for the kids like Dragonrider and old books like Finn Family Moomintroll. You loan us audiobooks for long trips. Without you, we would have to make book choices or go broke. There would be no shelves bringing all these books together in one place for us to browse and discover.
I know you’re under siege these days. I know some of the people who have Kindles and computers with high speed internet don’t seem to understand how important you are to the people who can’t afford them. I know that every city seems to be cutting its budget and you’re first on the chopping block. I know I get annoyed at how you house the homeless downtown, but I appreciate seeing people sitting with a book or a magazine, out of the heat, cold or rain.
So I’m holding you in the light right now. I’m hoping you survive and even thrive. I’m hoping you find a way to keep those old books so they don’t disappear yet also adapt to the coming world without paper and ink books. I’m hoping your librarians keep helping people and your beautiful buildings still stand.
A Book Lover