I had an hour’s vacation the other day. While I live about
four minutes from a public library that I regularly visit, there is a much
larger regional branch about seventeen minutes away from my home. When I was
actively home schooling, the kids and I went there often, but in the past year,
I haven’t been.
Last week, I treated myself and visited the large library. I
enjoyed browsing the biography section and finding tales of fascinating people
whose names I didn’t recognize. I meandered through the fiction section,
looking not only for well-loved authors, but also for books whose spines cry
out, “I’ve been on this shelf for a very long time.” Not all these books are
gems, but they are almost guaranteed not to be filled with profanity and TMI
about the protagonist’s sexual activity. If the book is boring, the gift of the public
library kicks in. I can read a few pages and decide to go no further.
Borrower’s remorse is never as painful as buyer’s remorse. I lingered by my
favorite Dewey decimal numbers. After all, any number that identifies Cheaper
by the Dozen must shelter more treats as well.
This library has what I consider the best books in the
system, the ones I’m afraid are going to be culled out and replaced by a DVD
selection. As the libraries, at least in my city, try to make themselves more
‘user-friendly’ with current books, computer monitors and movies to check out
or download, I worry that diamonds and pearls will be cast aside. David
Copperfield and Little Women aren’t going anywhere soon, but what of
less classic, though perfectly enjoyable tomes? Not all older books are good
and some newer ones are wonderful, but in general, it I find it sad that the
modern selection edges out the more traditional—and often
character-building—choices, particularly for children and young adults.
If you’ve been reading my Musings for any length
of time, you know that I adore books. If you do as well, are there any volumes
you cherish that you can no longer find on the shelves of your local library?