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An Ode to the Public Library

Updated at bottom:

Dear Public Library and All the Librarians Who Work Here:

Thank you.

I don’t say that enough to you. I mean, I say it when you hand me back the books I’ve just checked out, but that’s not what I mean.

Thank you for always having wireless Internet access when my Internet at home is down. Thank you for letting me check out as many cookbooks as I can carry home when I’m depressed and not saying anything when I renew them three times. Thank you for humouring me when I’m standing in front of you saying something along the lines of “there’s this book…and it’s blue…or it’s purple…I mean the cover is purple…and it has something about a frog in the title…or maybe it doesn’t. Do you know what I’m talking about?”

I just posted today’s LFCA from the library because my Internet is down for the 8th time in three days. Which is twenty kinds of annoying because I still have to pay for a service that the company is not actually providing. So everyone who receives support today from the LFCA–you should thank your local public library. Just swing by and walk up to a librarian and say, “thank you.” Even if it makes you look a little crazy. And check out a book while you’re there. I mean, you made the trip and all.

I now need to head home because I am going to be on an Internet radio show at noon. It’s probably a bit late (maybe not?) submit questions beforehand, but you can call-in during the show. It’s called Creating a Family and it runs from noon until 1 (EST). It will also be housed on that space after the show or downloadable from iTunes. Here is a chance to ask all your burning questions: what is the future fate of the turkey cutlet, how did I learn to rock the Irish Penny Whistle, or what did I end up doing with all of the empty Follistim vials I collected for an art project?

If Internet is not back up in the afternoon, I’ll head back here. To my little nook in the public library. And bring some mishloach manot for my local librarians.


I have Internet at home for the time being. I need to amend that I love and thank all librarians. I was using the term public library, but truly, my experience in my college library was just as fantastic. And I could cry thinking about the great times I’ve had in the Library of Congress (where they bring the books right to your table. Like you’re a queen and they’re feeding you grapes. Literally, you just turn in a slip and the books show up a few minutes later). Our public library also has a library bookstore that sells books…I shit you not…for 50 cents. 50 cents! I get all of my chicklit for 50 cents. I filled 4 shelves of a huge Ikea bookshelf with children’s books for 50 cents a piece. I carry around a slip of paper with all the books my friends are looking for too at all times and hit the library bookstore a few times a month to search. Can I just reiterate that these are current books–Jennifer Weiner, Jane Green, Emily Griffin–all for 50 cents. And you can donate your books to them and they’ll sell them. They don’t even question why I have 8 copies of Candide, they just take them and sell them. It is a beautiful world.


1 Jen { 03.04.09 at 10:35 am }

I love libraries! The one here is too far away for me to go often, sadly. I used to live close enough to one to walk to it though.

2 Tash { 03.04.09 at 10:49 am }

My city thought about shutting down a slew of libraries to make up some $ and got railroaded into reconsidering that option. I heard the mayor say yesterday he actually had no idea what a library actually provides people these days other than a book a week.

3 Jendeis { 03.04.09 at 10:51 am }

Huge fan of my library! Going this evening to pick up my book that’s on hold (book 2 of Twilight – shh, don’t tell anyone that I’m a complete fingerboard).

Good luck on the radio! Just remember to breathe. You will be wonderful – I know it!

4 nonlineargirl { 03.04.09 at 11:11 am }

I love my library (including the fact that our branch is 10 blocks away) – I love that you can renew and place holds on books via the internet, and that the library emails you to say “your book is in” or “your books will be due in 2 days”. I love that even in our small branch there are tons of great kids books and other books. I love that the library has a kids’ reading project each summer with prizes and incentives, even for kids (like my girl) who are still excited just by the prospect of new books, even without the bribes.

5 Brenna { 03.04.09 at 11:23 am }

My mom (Nancy the Bookmobile Lady) would thank you from the bottom of her sweet librarian heart.

6 KLTTX { 03.04.09 at 11:56 am }

Our family just discovered the public library and love our weekly visits there. Its a whole lot cheaper than buying books – who knew???

7 tragicoptimist { 03.04.09 at 12:06 pm }

Yay! This made my day, even though I’m not a public librarian. Since I work in a (non-public) library all day, I end up not going to our local library all that often, but my husband does, and everytime I go, I kick myself for not going more often.

8 Tara { 03.04.09 at 12:14 pm }

In my next life I’m going to come back as a librarian. Thanks for making the trek there to post my LFCA announcement. I appreciate the support.

9 Kristin { 03.04.09 at 12:18 pm }

I LOVE Our local library system. Not only am I only 1 1/2 miles from the closest branch but our entire card catalogue is online. I can actually reserve and renew books online. I have to go by our branch tonight to drop off a bunch of books and pick up one I have reserved.

10 Lyrehca { 03.04.09 at 12:34 pm }

Thanks for your congrats.

I am a huge library fan, and one of the best things about where I live is that I’m a block from our town’s main library, which is a gorgeous old building all modernized inside with fab goodies: free books. Free Internet. Free DVDs. And a tricked out kids room that keeps Baby L entertained when the afternoons get long. I can’t say enough about how much I love libraries. Enjoy!

11 JuliaS { 03.04.09 at 12:39 pm }

Ahhhhhhhh, the library. My heaven on earth – Nirvana, elixir of life. Just being in company of so many books . . . . **contented sigh**

I miss greatly some of the amazing and wonderful large libraries I use to have access to.

Current library is – at best, somewhat pitiful. AND, there was kind of that unfortunate streaking incident in the juvenile fiction section that still causes the librarians to eye me suspiciously whenever I darken their doorway . . . .

But – I still have my card!!

12 benedicteggs { 03.04.09 at 12:39 pm }

I am a librarian, though not a public one.

Warms my heart to see the love flowing for this kind of institution!

Just so you know, we heart our patrons just as much you love us!

13 areyoukiddingme { 03.04.09 at 1:18 pm }

I love my library. We have a great system – you can request pretty much any book on earth and if any library in the network has it, it will be on its way to you ASAP. There’s a library in my town. There’s a library across the parking lot from my office. I don’t have to store the books. They also sell books for a quarter or 50 cents. I love my library.

I also love the librarians, because they are the keepers of the library.

14 Amy Burk { 03.04.09 at 1:58 pm }

I heart libraries too. I get a little carried away by the room full of “free” books and try to take as much as I can carry!

15 Kymberli { 03.04.09 at 4:31 pm }

*shameful admission here* I haven’t been in a public library in years. Not even to take the little people. I always bring tons of books home for their collection and they spend every ounce of free time they have at school checking books out of the library, but methinks I need to rekindle my love of a good public library. That’s my spring break Big Thing To Do.

16 one-hit_wonder { 03.04.09 at 6:31 pm }

Chick lit for 50 cents??!! I’m so jealous!

I love the idea of the library as a sacred space – Alberto Manguel has a neat book about that.

17 Carrie27 { 03.04.09 at 6:44 pm }

That’s awesome! I would have saved a lot of money stocking up on books if I could buy them for 50 cents.

18 Heather { 03.04.09 at 7:04 pm }

I love libraries too! And my work/study job when I was in college was at the library. I loved working there.

19 Emmy { 03.04.09 at 8:43 pm }

The public library is great! When I discovered all of the videos and things I could check out, I felt like I had been missing out for years!

20 Meredith { 03.05.09 at 9:20 am }

I love this Mel! I opened today’s Express on my morning Metro ride and was tickled to see part of your post excerpted in Blog Log.

And here is an awesome link to a compendium of beautiful libraries:

21 Rachel { 03.05.09 at 9:57 am }

Don’t forget the free or $1 movie rentals, the free story time, the free computer classes, and the free workshops, and the awesome play areas. Our downtown library even shows free indy type movies on the big screen. I canceled all my magazines and read them at the library. I’m pretty sure I would be bored out of my mind staying at home with my son if we didn’t have an awesome library system here.

22 Mr. Visual { 03.08.09 at 2:42 pm }

You are so very welcome!

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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