Monday Musings: Read Across America Day

 Read Across America DayPart of my personal library with some really old books I inherited from my father.

Today on Emmet Street, we’re celebrating National Read Across America Day. This day was started back in 1997 by the National Education Association (NEA) to encourage children to read. It coincides with the birthday of Dr. Seuss, one of my favorite authors.

To celebrate, I’m turning off the television, curling up under a warm blanket and immersing myself in the final book of the Divergent trilogy,  Allegiant. I can’t wait to find out how it ends! No spoilers!

Looking for your next read? We wax poetic about the magic of books quite often on Emmet Street. Check out some of our past posts for ideas:

Have you seen our Home Library Lust board on Pinterest? (Why not jump on over and follow us?) Here are some of our recent book-related pins:

  • Books in the ceiling – Just getting a book down from this library would be a great adventure!
  • Little Free Library – Give a book, take a book, spread the joy.
  • TV library – Looking to recycle your old boxy television? There are some great ideas here, including a TV library!

It’s not you, it’s me

Books HD

Image credit: Books HD by Abhi Sharma, on Flickr. CC by 2.0. 

I have a confession to make: I don’t want to lend you my books.

Books are revered objects to me and I can’t bear the idea that they might be damaged when they are not under my supervision.

I’m sure this protective impulse comes from my childhood. I L-O-V-E-D to read, but buying books was a financial extravagance. Sometimes I had a little money squirreled away or my mom found a little extra in the household budget for me to order a book from the school book club, but that was a rare event. Luckily for me, my small town had a library large enough to satisfy my reading appetite (and employed a librarian that did a great job rotating the supply with books from the other county library branches).

I still use the library as my primary source of reading material, but now I can afford to augment my supply by buying books. Coming from a frugal background, I take care of my stuff and keep it in good condition. If I offer to lend you a book, you have earned a high level of trust with me.

Occasionally, my good judgment fails me.

During one past relationship, I entrusted my date with a book that was of special importance to me. We had discussed it and I was persuasive in my review of the quality of the writing and advice it offered, so he asked to borrow it. I trusted him, so I allowed him to do so.

I found out he had a character defect I missed: He didn’t care for things like I did and he ruined my book. When he had the nerve to return it, the pages were warped because he read it in the bathtub and dropped it in the water. He had also used it as a coaster for his overfull coffee cup; the telltale rings were all over the cover.

I was horrified by his lack of respect for something that belonged to me, and I knew the relationship was doomed. He didn’t even offer to replace it. Jerk. After we parted ways, I replaced my damaged book with a pristine copy and vowed—as God as my witness—I would never lend it again.

So, to those of you that know me in real life, please don’t be offended if, instead of offering to loan you a book, I gently encourage you to patronize your local library. Not only is it a good practice to honor your local library with a visit, it’s good practice to preserve a harmonious relationship with me.

What about you? Do you feel protective of the books you own? If you are protective, are you protective of all your books or just certain titles? Tell me your thoughts (even if it is to tell me I’m cuckoo)!

It’s National Library Week! 14 reasons why U.S. public libraries are awesome

A library is not a luxury

Image credit: A Library is Not a Luxury by Enokson, on Flickr. CC BY 2.0.

It’s National Library Week! I’m a big fan of the library. Here are some of the reasons why:

  1. Totally free access to books, ebooks magazines, movies and more!
  2. Your local library doesn’t have an item you’re looking for? If another library has it, and your library has a interlibrary loan agreement with them, you get to borrow it!
  3. The Dewey Decimal System. In 1873, librarian Melvil Dewey was frustrated. Not only could he not find his keys, he couldn’t find reference materials quickly enough. He knew there had to be a better way to organize books by the content they contained. Eventually he invented the numerical classification system that bears his name and shared it with the world in 1876. The rest, as they say, is found in the 900s (History and Geography).
  4. They provide access to computers with free, high-speed internet access–some libraries even lend laptops for home use! According to the American Library Association (ALA), as of 2012, 62% of libraries are the only source of internet in the community they serve.*
  5. Do you have your own laptop? The ALA says 91% of libraries reported free wi-fi is offered in their library.*
  6. Are you just starting to dabble in social media and don’t know a tweet from a twit? Your friendly librarian can teach you all about it; 90% of libraries report they offer free technology training, according to the ALA.*
  7. Lifelong learning courses. Not only can you check out materials to feed your head, many libraries offer free programming to make you smarter. I’ve taken advantage of this myself attending writing classes (taught by published authors), health and wellness classes and more!
  8. Author visits. Sure, they want to promote their latest book, but you get the chance to interact with some of your heroes. I had the chance to meet Sarah Vowell. (I got her autograph, but I was to shy to talk to her.)
  9. Job search help. My local library even has a dedicated career center that employs certified career counselors to help with resume preparation, interview skills and other tools to help you find your next job.
  10. Online databases for research. Can’t make it to the library? It’s midnight and really need to know what Consumer Reports thinks about the blender you’re thinking of buying? No problem. Many libraries allow access to their subscription databases via their website as long as you confirm your library affiliation with your library card number.
  11. Storytime for kids!
  12. Need a passport? A lot of libraries are approved to accept passport applications and even take the requisite photos. While you’re there, you can even check out some things to help you plan your trip!
  13. Trained, friendly librarians who have superpowers. When you’re struggling to find what you need (believe it or not, everything cannot be found on the internet), they have some clever tricks and tools to get that information for you.
  14. Did I mention it’s free?

Of course, there is a significant cost to running your local library. A lot of library funding comes from state and local government sources so this stinky economy has been hard on library pocketbooks, too. When you’re asked at the polling booth to support a tax levy to help fund your public library, I hope you consider voting “Yes.” The benefits the library and it’s staff provides to your community are priceless.

Need more convincing? Watch these videos from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (you might need to have some tissues handy):

 

*Source for library statistics: American Library Association, ALA Fact Sheet 6Retrieved April 12, 2014.