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#1049623 - Fri Jun 20 2014 10:31 AM Public Library
agony Offline


Registered: Sat Mar 29 2003
Posts: 14973
Loc: Western Canada
I was a voracious reader from a family of voracious readers, as a kid. In practical terms, what this meant was that there was no way our parents could afford to buy us books - there were six of us to feed, not even taking into account how many bookshelves we'd have needed. So I spent my childhood at the library.

I can still remember whereabouts favourite books were on the shelves ("don't remember the name of that author, but it must have began with A or B, because the shelf was the first one right under the window....") and many books that I loved were only read at first because the author's name came next in the alphabet to someone I was already reading.

How about you? How important was the library to your childhood reading?

#1049626 - Fri Jun 20 2014 10:59 AM Re: Public Library
trident Offline

Registered: Sun Feb 20 2005
Posts: 2998
Loc: Wisconsin USA
I had a rather unfortunate experience with my town's public library when I was a child. During the school year, all the students in my small town didn't get home until after 4PM due to a long bus ride, which was when the library closed. My parents were upset that the library was catering to the rich tourist adults who could visit the library during the day and not the children who lived in the town after they got home from school. During the week, I couldn't visit the library at all.

So basically, we had a three hour window on Saturdays where we could go check out books and do our homework studies (in these days, Internet service was often dial-up and not always guaranteed at home, so the library was vital).
Perception is everything.

Editor: World and General

#1049631 - Fri Jun 20 2014 11:23 AM Re: Public Library
golfmom08 Offline
Forum Adept

Registered: Sun Feb 20 2011
Posts: 183
Loc: Florida USA        
I have always loved the library and now I am working in the one at a small private school! I don't have a degree from college, but have the necessary experience and training from the former librarian (retired now). My fondest memory was spending the summer with my grandmother and going to the library every day or so. There was a contest, I don't remember the prize, for most books read. I filled up 3 cards with 20 books each! I still have those cards somewhere!

#1049646 - Fri Jun 20 2014 02:53 PM Re: Public Library
nmerr Offline

Registered: Sat Oct 02 2010
Posts: 9
Loc: Salt Lake City Utah USA      
I am fortunate to be employed as a public services librarian in an excellent public library system. Nowadays public libraries are much more than books, movies, and music. They truly belong to the community in every way from family and outreach programs and e-books to a growing a vegetable garden as my own library has done. Technology has advanced enough to provide information simply by tapping a phone app. I have the best job in the world.

#1049656 - Fri Jun 20 2014 04:03 PM Re: Public Library
kaddarsgirl Offline

Registered: Wed Jun 27 2012
Posts: 1836
Loc: Ohio USA
As I kid I loved to read (and still do) and my parents would take my brother and me to the local library all the time to get books. We read more in the summer, of course, without school to get in the way, and every year we participated in the library's summer reading program that has some awesome prizes for reading a certain number of hours or a certain number of books. As I got older, I started working in the summers as a volunteer at the library, helping with the reading program for the young kids. I also helped out with the library's science days, when we would teach K-6th graders that science can be fun. smile Now that I'm away at school, I use my library's online collection to read books from my computer. It is such a great resource!
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#1049659 - Fri Jun 20 2014 04:23 PM Re: Public Library
Christinap Offline

Registered: Sun Jul 27 2008
Posts: 1700
Loc: Essex UK
As soon as I could read on my own the local library became vital to me. Fortunately it was only a five minutes walk from home. By the time I was 13 or 14 I had outstripped the children's library and the head librarian, who I will always remember with love, a Mr Smith, allowed me access to the adult library subject to check out desk censorship from whoever was on duty. He also subtly introduced me to some great books. It was thanks to him I started on Steinbeck, and on through the great American novels. He didn't neglect the English authors either, he loved a well crafted who done it, a good historical block buster. He was also a big sci-fi fan and made sure I was aware of Heinlein, H.G. Wells, Ray Bradbury et al. When I was seven or eight he seemed old, but in fact he wasn't and as I got older we became great friends. Our tastes did differ, he was fond of Hammond Innes and war novels, I wasn't so keen.

Sadly when I was about 40 he died of lung cancer. I will always remember him for his promotion of the love of reading of a precocious child, for the discussions we had at book groups, for the way he always said there is no such thing as a bad book, just books you enjoy and books you don't.

In the 1950s in this country books were expensive, and as Agony has said, parents could not afford to buy unlimited books for a voracious reader. Yes, we had a lot of books in the house, but many were not suitable for my age. People like my friend Mr Smith made public libraries accessible, not stuffy, somewhere children who loved to read were made welcome and encouraged. They were and they remain a vital resource.
Long live the library.

#1049733 - Sat Jun 21 2014 05:38 AM Re: Public Library
cinnam0n Offline

Registered: Tue Nov 02 2004
Posts: 6736
Loc: Pennsylvania USA
The public library has been an important part of my life for literally as long as I can remember. I pretty much always have library books out, except for very busy times like Christmas, etc., when I know I won't have time to read. I keep paper lists of my favorite authors, and am a little fussy about reading an author's books in chronological order. I am not one to buy books often, so the library is a good friend.

#1049810 - Sat Jun 21 2014 09:55 AM Re: Public Library
jabb5076 Offline

Registered: Tue Apr 24 2012
Posts: 316
Loc: Georgia USA
I've always believed one of the greatest benefits we receive from our tax dollars is the public library system. Some of my fondest childhood memories revolve around the weekly trip to the library. I was so proud of my library card, and I remember plowing through every book in numerous genres in the children's section ( fairy tales, mythology, etc.) I think when parents instill in their children the belief that the library is an exciting, magical place, and visit it regularly, they are going a long way toward creating life-long readers.
And like nmerr said, today's libraries offer so much more than just print books; people are foolish to not take advantage of all the library offers.

#1052838 - Sun Jul 13 2014 11:30 PM Re: Public Library
TriviaFan22 Offline

Registered: Sat Apr 27 2013
Posts: 314
Loc: Texas USA
Most folks in the library here are there to play games and rent DVDs, read magazines or whatever. I've said several times, There are whole sections on the second floor where nobody goes! (Philosophy, economics, theology)

#1055271 - Sat Jul 26 2014 01:05 PM Re: Public Library
guitargoddess Offline

Registered: Mon Jul 09 2007
Posts: 39700
Loc: Ottawa Ontario Canada         
I read a LOT as a kid and the library was important, though we did buy a lot of books too. I always an order to place when the monthly (I think?) Scholastic book flyers came out.

The library had a 15 book maximum that you could check out at a time, and I always checked out 15 (this was when I was reading the Babysitters Club, Sweet Valley, etc. kind of books). My mom would have to bring me back a week later to return them, and get another 15.

I exhausted the kids section of the library by the time I was 11 or so, and moved onto 'young adult' and then adult.

I don't like the library as much anymore. Lots of focus on things other than books, and with every thing automated, it just feels very impersonal and not cozy.
Editor: Television and Animals

#1055282 - Sat Jul 26 2014 03:18 PM Re: Public Library
agony Offline


Registered: Sat Mar 29 2003
Posts: 14973
Loc: Western Canada
I was a kid with a lot of allergies, and at that time the treatment was to give weekly injections of very small amounts of your allergens, to build up a resistance. The doctor's office was in a shopping centre about six blocks from home, and it wasn't long before my mom allowed me to go on my own for my shot, as it was fairly time consuming (you had to wait half an hour to see if there was a reaction to the shot) but otherwise dead easy.

So every Friday after school I'd go home, pick up last week's library books, go to the doctor (he had, among his magazine subscriptions, one to Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine which I credit for my lifelong love of short mystery fiction) then hit the library which was in the same centre. Six books was the limit, and that's about how many I would have been able to carry home as this was before the days of paperback books in libraries.

I was strictly forbidden to read while walking home, though I did it anyway.

You couldn't get an adult card until you were twelve. This was well before the days of targeted young adult books, and I remember so clearly the mix of excitement and fear when I first ventured into the adult section - all this great stuff, but what would be good? what was too hard? what was too adult (meaning either/both "boring" and "scarily sexy"). I started with familiar names from the children's section like Mark Twain and Rudyard Kipling, and also read an absolutely astonishing number of coming-of-age novels about growing up ethnic in Depression-era New York considering how little I enjoyed them. Eventually I found my feet, though, and then I was off.....

#1055429 - Sun Jul 27 2014 02:30 PM Re: Public Library
HairyBear Offline

Registered: Fri Sep 01 2006
Posts: 636
Loc: Florida USA
I never participated in those summer reading programs because by the time I got to the point where I could get to the library on my own, I had "graduated" from fiction to nonfiction, which is heavier reading and much thicker books, so I knew I couldn't compete with those reading dozens of novels in a summer. I still enjoy anthologies of short stories, but I dislike novels. But most of the books I read are nonfiction. And while I get to the library more often now, my usual source of reading material has been yard sales and discount book stores. I rarely pay more than $2 for a book anymore, and it has to be either something I've always wanted (even if I didn't know it before seeing it) or something I've seen recommended by at least three reviewers.

On the topic of library use, I find it's a matter of the community. I currently live in a small town where very few people visit the library at all, and the book collection, while small, is still much greater than the DVD collection. The largest crowd I saw in there was for a GED class. A previous community I lived in, about three times the size with a two story library, almost no one visited the second floor where most of the books were. They were all on the first floor either using the computers or picking up DVD's, of which the choice was quite impressive. The people were almost all loud and obnoxious, too. I think I would have improved the clientele by throwing out the computers and selling off the DVD's.

#1065162 - Wed Sep 17 2014 08:47 AM Re: Public Library
MotherGoose Offline

Registered: Mon Apr 22 2002
Posts: 4849
Loc: Western Australia
I have an allergy to chlorinated water (such as used in public swimming pools) so when I was at school and all my classmates went off to the weekly swimming lesson, I was not allowed to go. Instead I had to go to the school library and was extremely happy to do so. I used to help out by covering books, re-shelving the returned books, manning the check-out desk etc. Working in the library was great fun and it usually meant I got to read the new books first.

I actually wanted to become a librarian but was persuaded to go into teaching instead. I should have gone with my instincts and become a librarian!

As a child, I was also a regular at the public library. We were allowed to take out four books at a time, two fiction and two non-fiction.
Don't say "I can't" ... say " I haven't learned how, yet." (Reg Bolton)


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