It’s a fact: I love libraries too much.
I suppose it’s not the worst addictive habit to have. I just thought that I wouldn’t want to be in another relatively quiet room, surrounded by books and the laughter of small children scouring picture books on one of my two days off from working at my own community library. But no. I’ve found myself in just another library today. Another thing: it’s not the first time this summer it has happened. A few weeks ago I stopped at one library to read and write for half an hour before driving down the road to start work . . . at the library.
There are many different stages of my life that helped build this habit. Vague memories of traveling to the libraries in Naperville Illinois and Brentwood Tennessee when I was very little. Sweet librarians in both my elementary and middle school libraries in Austin, Texas (fun fact: both librarians are still working at those schools now. I guess it’s a hard job to retire from, but at the same time I love knowing more generations are going to get the same loving introduction to libraries as I did). During middle school my friends and I would chow down our lunches quickly and dash into the cool library for the remainder of the period, chatting about Lone Star book with Mrs. Lloyd until the bell pulled us back to class.
The habit lapsed for some reason in high school and even at the beginning of my undergraduate career at Rice, I stayed away from Fondren’s never-ending stacks and cold floors for my first two years. Until I studied abroad at Oxford University. I spent so much time in libraries partially because my college, Hertford, was across the street from one of the world’s most famous libraries, the Bodleian and its accompanying iconic building, the Radcliffe Camera. But I continued to explore various spots in Oxford’s various libraries because that’s some of the first advice I received from the head visiting students tutor. She told us not to spend most of the time in our rooms, studying within the same blank walls, but to change it up not only from day to day and week to week, but from morning to afternoon. I began to transfer locations not only when I needed new resources, but when the mood struck me after lunch. Each table, each chair, each floor of the libraries had a different feel to it. Sometimes it led me to a pushed away corner or a darker corridor where no one would come by to distract my glance from the screen or book. Sometimes it led me to communal study tables where everyone focused, but with their books piled up and mixed together.
And now the habit continues. I work in the Bee Cave Library, a community library very much in the center of family activities with its large picture book section and its location literally in the center of the city. It’s never a quiet space, but one where multiple librarians or patrons can chime in with a great, unexpected suggestion. Especially for fun reads. I don’t know the Lake Travis Community Library as well, but it has a fabulous view at the back of a water feature. The modern architecture sometimes feels cold and unwelcoming, but it offers some of the best armchairs for deep focus.
There are so many libraries I could review, so many other reasons why I love these free community spaces. I have to remind myself to slow down and think about all the wonderful new libraries I will get to frequent next year in Toronto and at York University.
Library nerd forever! You can’t make me ashamed of hanging out with librarians at the bar down the block after a long shift or “library-hopping.”