I was feeling nostalgic recently and decided to wonder into some of the libraries that I used to hang out in when I was little. I know people have been using them less in recent times so I wasn’t expecting a quaint treasure trove but I wasn’t expecting them to be as empty as they were.
All of them were really sparse, not just with the lack of people but the lack of items in them. They didn’t have wide selection of books, there were barely any computers. Surprisingly though, the books were actually in reasonable condition, none of them were falling apart by the seams. When I went to New Zealand, some of the libraries would sell of older books so I was secretly hoping for some cheap buys but I couldn’t find anything like that in my local area.
When I was a kid, going to the library with my mum was one of the most exciting trips of the school holidays. I loved making a ridiculous selection to take back home only to return a week later. And I felt so grown up when my comprehension skills expanded and I got to upgrade from the children’s section, to young adults to adults. And because it never costed me anything, I was much more adventurous with my reading habits than I am now; I have a very vivid memory of choosing manga and unauthorised biography of Prince William.
I also loved the time I spent with my mum when she’d take me and thinking back, I’m really appreciative of all the time she spent helping me to find the books that I wanted, like she’d help make book reservations or drive around to different libraries looking for the correct title. It’s one of my fondest memories growing up.
I loved libraries so much that in primary school, I volunteered to be a junior librarian just so I could scan the books, help put books away and learn about the dewey decimal system like the giant nerd that I was.
We still have places for libraries in a modernised society, but it does require them to change. I think libraries shouldn’t just be a place to borrow books or use the internet (for the three people who does not have internet connection at home) but should include more activities that involve the community. I know we do this now because my local libraries were advertising free lessons in various subjects (English, computing etc) but I want to see regular activities like book discussions that aren’t held during the day time when I have to work, or lectures by various professors although I understand that this requires funding most public libraries don’t have access to.
It’s very sad that we don’t seem to have the same use for local libraries as we used to have and I feel like we’re losing an important aspect of our community. I know it’s slightly hypocritical of me to say this because I haven’t been to one in years because I prefer to buy my books instead of borrowing and I only decided to wonder into a few to take a trip down memory lane and not to actually use the services, but it doesn’t change my wistfulness.