Libraries are such magical places. You can choose your delights from the featured books gathered in places (usually by theme) throughout the library; cruise the fiction shelved alphabetically; or hightail it directly to a favorite section such as history, art, or gardening. Long before children learn the Dewey Decimal system, they learn where their favorite books are shelved. The youngest children choose by cover design - young readers often choose by favorite author - then we mature into readers who also consult the covers, inside jacket blurbs, and perhaps the introduction or table of contents before we make our selection.
No matter how we make our selection, every book can be checked out and taken home. Unlike the book store where selections are made according to need and bank balance, hungry-eyed readers have access to every single book in the library. Food gluttony can lead to illness, but I never heard of anyone getting sick from reading too many books or learning too much.
Because books are always coming and going from library shelves, you are never sure what you are going to find in a favorite section or by a favorite author. Yes, you can reserve books in advance and pick them up when they're available, but that takes the fun of discovery away. I love that "oh, wow" feeling when I find a treasure I wasn't expecting on the library shelves.
Last Saturday on a gorgeous afternoon, I went to my local branch. I found two books I had been wanting to read and empty rocking chairs on the screened in porch looking out over a lovely wood. As I rocked and reviewed my stack to determine which of the lovelies would actually go home with me, I was so thankful to Andrew Carnegie and all the other hundreds of folks who developed and continue to sustain public libraries across the country.
The role of libraries continues to change. There are more and more computers as people surf the information highway. There are study groups, language tutoring, story telling, community meetings...but the main business of the library is still circulation. Sharing books with anyone with a library card. What a gift. Today, I'm thankful for my current bag of books from the library. Support your library. It is partially funded on its circulation numbers. Patronize your library. Join a book group, tutor a child, attend a meeting, or just sit and read. You'll be glad you did.