Thursday, August 23, 2007

what I love :: the local library

(an ostensibly craft-related post)

When I was six years old, my dad took me to the public library to get my first library card. How official I felt! How grown up! My own card, with my own name on it. For years after that, it was a favorite Saturday afternoon ritual - going to the library with my father and brother. Sometimes the library would show kids' movies (my favorite: Pippi Longstocking). Other times there were readings or other special events. But mostly for me, the library was about the miles and miles of books. I loved those stacks. (The only drawback was that patrons were not allowed to check out more than 10 books at a time - I hated that rule!). There was nothing like leaving the library with a pile of books.

It surprises me, then, that it took so long for me to become a patron of the Ann Arbor District Library. I think part of it is that by the time we moved here, I had gotten in the habit of buying most of the books I wanted instead of borrowing (hello and thank you, Amazon. Not to mention: hello and thank you, full-time job and disposable income). In the years before we moved here, I lived in a very small town with a very small library, and while I certainly patronized it, I couldn't find most of what I wanted. Also, I have a small problem with keeping books past their due dates and owing exorbitant fines, so I think that after a few too many big fines, I cut back on checking things out and just used that money to buy books instead.

I did occasionally visit the library here in my first years, but it was sporadic. And then about three years ago, I suddenly got hooked. Perhaps it had something to do with having kids and wanting to introduce them to the wonders of the library early, like my dad did for me. Or maybe it was because the AADL unveiled an amazing and extensive website. Or maybe it was because I finally realized that, with kids, a house, and a yarn habit to support, (not to mention an expensive coffee addiction to keep up with), I couldn't keep funneling so much of my money to Barnes&Noble, Borders, and Amazon. Probably it was a convergence of all of these things. Whatever the reason, I am now completely hooked on our public library. Love it. And I'm here to tell you, the public library can be a craftster's best friend.

Example #1: When I first started getting interested in sewing and quilting (ah, quilting, the hobby I'm obsessed with and have yet never tried), I was hesitant to buy any books related to those crafts (especially since I had so many knitting books on my list). But my library has a great collection of these books. I can search their catalog online from home and put a hold on it online, and it will be waiting for me to pick it up at the desk at any branch I choose (there are three within 5 minutes of my house, lucky me). By using my online account, I was able to put a hold on Denise Schmidt's quilting book before the library even owned a copy - then when they got it, I was able to just swing by and pick it up!

Example #2: Some books (like Denise Schmidt's book) I decide right away I want to own myself, so I will go ahead and buy them myself when I have the funds. But other books I'm not yet ready to purchase, and if no one else is waiting for them, I can keep them indefinitely - as long as I use my online account to renew them every three weeks. Good-bye, overdue fines! (okay, let's be honest, I still find it possible to rack up fines) [the book I've checked out the longest: Your First Quilting Book - which I have now renewed 27 times in a row] (if anyone else ever wants it, they just put a hold on it and then I can't renew it, so I don't feel bad about having it out for well over a year)

Example #3: Occasionally there will be a crafting book I want that is out-of-print. Last spring there was one I really wanted: One Piece Knits That Fit. At the time, the price was unreasonable for me (it had shot way up due to demand and too few copies). My library's online catalog didn't have the book. BUT I was able to search the Inter-Library Loan database and locate four other copies in the state. Within a week, one was ready for me to pickup at my local library. Unfortunately, I couldn't renew it beyond the three weeks I had it checked out. I may or may not have photocopied the entire book.

Right now, as you know, I am working on the Lace Leaf Pullover, which I just happened to spot and love in the Ravelry database. I originally had other plans for the chocolate brown yarn and so did not already own the book that has this pattern. So I checked the book out. You know, there is not one other thing in that book that I will ever want to knit, and I'm sure I will only knit this pullover this one time. Public library to the rescue.

I know that crafting books are the only thing I'm raving about here, but that's just because I know y'all will understand. But I do check out other things, and thankfully, there are no limits here on how much I can have out at once (current total: 32 books; my record: 49). Since we do not have TV, we only watch DVDs, and the AADL is a great source for those, especially for our boys.

There are so many reasons I love the public library, and now my boys do too. The children's sections at two of the closest branches are particularly good, with the main branch housing a large aquarium. Tiny Dancer is crazy about fish.







But of course the best part is still the books....


Love you, local library! Love you, friendly librarians! Love you, books!

What about the rest of you? Do you use and love your local library? What do you love about it?

23 comments:

Mary Beth said...

I am devoted to my public library. Like you, it took me several years to get back to that childhood adoration...but now I'm there at least once a week.

I use ILL constantly. I adore the service that allows me to search the catalog online, and ask for a checked-in book, or one from another branch, to be held for me. Then when I go in, I don't have to look for it...there it is with my name on it!

Maybe I love my library so much because I was there for its grand opening. It is the 3rd branch in our town, and opened about 4 years ago...it is in a renovated building that used to be a Food Lion store. Brave Combo played!

The children's section has BIG! SQUOOSHY! CUSHIONS! to sit and read on. I sit and read there sometimes, myself, even though unfortunately I'm usually not accompanied by children when I go.

Ah, I love my library. Thanks for reminding me.

Kitty Mommy said...

We LOVE our library too...especially the online catalog. I can find stolen moments to look for books without worrying if one of the littles is running amok in the library (the two-year-old went through a let's pull books off the shelf when Mom's back in turned phase). Then we pick up our pile of holds when we visit on Friday! Plus I can look up my checked out books and put the ones that are due in the library bag just before we leave, which has cut WAY down on overdues!

I remember the 10 book limit from growing up. Now I usually have 60-80 books out at any given time now. They are mostly four-week check out and the vast majority are kid books, but still!

nova said...

I love my local libray and use it all the time (even though I work in a college library!). I am glad to see your boys reading the books as opposed to ripping them apart!

amy said...

Love the library. We're in a tiny state (the tiniest, actually), and all the libraries are linked, so I can return books to any other library, no matter where I've checked them out. So convenient. I can request any book that's in any of the linked libraries, and if NONE of them have it, my local library will go get it from an out-of-state library. We attend free programs, we've done storytime, and, quite frankly, my book budget is very, very small. Without my library I'd be bored and not reading much.

Sarah said...

We love the library too! Placing holds online is the best invention ever! My only problem is that for some reason our library's catalog is unavailable after midnight, and that's often when I'm playing around on the internet and finding new books to request. My mom has her Masters in library science, and is a HUGE library buff, so I've been making weekly (at least) trips to the library since I was in utero.

Natalie said...

I, too am a devotee of the Ann Arbor public library. I moved to AA last fall, and immediately began requesting knitting books from the AADL. It was such a great way to discover new stuff without committing to it (when I buy a book I need to know I'll really use it!). On a whim I requested books about felting, and I couldn't believe the beautiful and unusual things I found in the books as I got them! One thing about the wonders of our library that you didn't mention is that if there is something that they don't have, you can request that they buy it to add to their collection, and if they decide to buy it you're the first to get it! I have done this a few times with books and cd's, and every time they have come through and within a few weeks I am the first person to have checked out the new item. Keep it in mind, it is an awesome system! And I have also sung the praises of the library so much that I have gotten other friends (even those outside of Ann Arbor) to being making regular visits to the library. It's such an obvious but wonderful idea-- sharing! We are lucky to have the Ann Arbor library, it is a special place :)

Jamie said...

Have your kids seen the fairy door at the downtown branch? It's worth the search.

cath said...

I've been lurking on your site this summer and while I don't usually post comments, I had to tell you how much I liked it. I grew up on an island in eastern Canada (where Anne of Green Gables is from) and we lived for our weekly trips into town and the library. We had the 10 book limit too and made full use of it! Of course, my most famous 4-year old tantrum happened on the steps of the library (so I'm famous in town!) but it's still my favourite place to walk past when I'm home. I hope to introduce my new daughter to the pleasures of the lirbary and you've given me new inspiration to do so!

Songbird said...

Wow. 27 times? I would feel guilty, I'm sure
I stopped using the library after I stopped working there and lost my magic fine-waiving ability!

Christopher Chandler said...

I must admit, I do love me some libraries, and the Ann Arbor library is the best I've seen. Love those fish!

You know what else is great about libraries? This video.

staceyk said...

I have always been a library lover. We go as a family at least once a week. I take the boys myself at leat once a week. It is not big. But inter-library loan to the rescue! They see me coming and they start typing! A cool thing though, the librarian has ordered a few books for the library after I brought them to their attention. Yeah books

Felicia said...

Don't you love how the library is all modern and technologically advanced now? You can request books online and you can renew books online to avoid those late fees :) I love the library!

justabeachkat said...

I love and use our local library, actually two branches since I live right in the middle of both of them. I listen to books on tape all the time instead of the radio. I started doing it for trips and got hooked. Now I listen to them every day. Anytime I'm in the car, I have one on.

Great post.

Hugs!
Kat

Cathy said...

I love the interlibrary loan section online. When I hear of a good book, I check to see if the library has it now - or if it needs to come ILL -
I am now on a first name basis with the folks that do the ILL :)

Those folks at the library WANT us to check out books -- the amount of circulation determines their monies. I'm so glad I help with that and it helps that i don't buy ALL of the books too!!!

C. Joshua Villines said...

We like to think that, with all of our downsizing, we are not materialistic. The one exception, which probably borders on some sort of fetish for me, is books. I think I have some subconscious fear that the present regime will outlaw reading and that hordes of torch-bearing fundamentalists will descend on our libraries; leaving my living room as the last bastion of civilization.

Sooo...I generally assume that if a book is worth reading it's worth buying used off Amazon. I seem to have passed this belief on to John Francis, who is now working his way through all of the paperback fantasy and science fiction novels I'd saved from my adolescence.

I do have a membership at the Decatur library, but I've never checked out a book there.

Joshua

Kim in KCK said...

Ahhh...a kindred spirit for sure! Book lover AND Knitter! We have a family full of book addicts, and the library is where we often "try before we buy". I love the audio books as well, but those do come from the library and don't join the household permanent collection.

Books are typically bought used through ABEbooks which I access through ebates to get even more money back. Does the RevGals link to Amazon give a rebate to them on used books?

I really need to check out the ravelry site you all have been talking about. Another way to suck up my time, I'm sure!

Great post, Earthchick!

Gannet Girl said...

Kids, fish, books -- gorgeous photos!

hip2B said...

Well,of course I love the library -I work here! Haven't paid a fine snce I started working in libraries (one of the small perks)... some libraries waive them for devoted volunteers. I'm just sayin'...

Sally said...

excellent post, I miss family outings to the library- though fines were often a feature!!!

Rev Kim said...

Beautiful post. I also have such fond memories of my parents taking me to the library. The stacks and stacks of books enchanted me. When I was researach asst for one of my seminary profs, I loved it when I got to go to the library. I love the serenity of libraries, and the scent, I love the scent of libraries.

revabi said...

For five years, I have not had a library and got out of the habit of using one like you. But now we live in an area that has a nice one. Do I use it? once or twice. And it has a nice coffee shop too.
I have tried to take the kids to it, but they get bored. Although they like the library at shcool and bring home books from it all the time.
YOu have inspired me though to go to the library.

amisha said...

that photo of the two boys reading on the couch is just about the cutest thing EVER.
i don't use my public library enough... this post is a good inspiration to get out there! and now i have the nypl which i am really excited about!

Rachel said...

While I'm sure you didn't mean it as a joke, I laughed out loud when you said you'd renewed a particular book 27 times. I'm jealous -- the craft books at my local library always seem to be in fairly heavy demand.

I am catching up on all your posts even if I am not commenting on all of them. I'm glad to see things are going well for you!