Thursday, March 05, 2009

Your Public Library

I wrote my column for today’s Commercial Appeal about libraries because the kids and I have taken quite a few trips to a couple of branches recently, and because that’s where I first encountered so many books.

The truth is, though, I still prefer bookstores, especially used bookstores. I could spend hours in one, and have. And I’ll always have this need, this OCD need to own my books. I don’t like to borrow books, even from friends, and I don’t really like to lend them. I would be the worst library ever. When a library book enters our house – and many do – I can’t help but wonder where it’s been: someone’s bathroom? Someone’s sick bed?

I’m not defending that line of thought, it’s just the way I think.

I like the communal atmosphere of a library. They’re the early coffee shops where people go to work or relax or just sit in a comfortable space away from their homes. And I like the possibilities, there’s no telling what you might find around the next end cap if you’re willing to explore a little.

I recently took The Quartet to the White Station library branch on Poplar Ave. where I spent so much time as a kid. It was the first time I’d been there in a long, long time. It seemed much smaller to me and laid out a bit differently. It’s well worn, like the spine of your favorite paperback, and could do with some upgrades, especially in the children’s department.

The librarians were very helpful, as they are in all libraries. In fact, walking into any library anywhere is just like walking into a home away from home. It’s the same feeling I have walking into a jumbled mess of a used bookstore. it’s very familiar, like visiting old friends.

My column is 15-inches, about 500 words, but I could have gone on for another 500 about libraries and books and the importance of both. Gather up your kids today, take them to your nearest library and leave with a stack of books. Or take them to your favorite bookstore, buy a few books and start them on their way to their very own library.

[Thanks to Drake & Zeke at 98.1 The Max for mentioning me and the column on air this morning!]