When I was around 12 years old, there was a library and recreation center/park directly across the street from where I lived. I would spend a lot of time at the library, the pool, and basketball courts there. I didn’t even realize at the time how lucky I was to be so close to something so awesome.
The library offered these summer reading competitions, and I always entered them. The concept was pretty simple: read books, many books. I think there were contests for reading 50 books, and 100. Things like that. I don’t remember the rewards, but I do remember the medals they awarded. For everyone who completes the challenge. A young reader medal.
I spent so much time at this library, reading books that inspired my life, using their computers to browse the dial-up internet, to type my own novels and to print school stuff. That library brought so much joy into my life. Near my 13th birthday, I started volunteering there. I would push small shelved carts down aisles and put books back where they went. That’s all I remember doing. It was fun though! I did that for a couple of months before I stopped. I don’t recall why I stopped…
Anyway, now I’m 28 years old… and I haven’t spent much time in the library since those days. I have grown up, moved around, traveled, done many cool things… but somehow one of the places I loved SO dearly as a kid got lost in the mix.
Three months or so ago I decided I wanted to read more often. I considered the deals on half.com when I had a sudden jolt of “OH YEAH, LIBRARIES EXIST.” I googled to see where the nearest one to me was, and it was less than 1 mile away. They seem to be everywhere! At least that’s how it seemed to me, there was always a library within reach of me… and I forgot all about it!
I hopped in the car and sped to the library.
After getting myself a card at this new library (they are little cards that dangle off your keychain these days) I set off to find my first book.
I went to an aisle I like exploring- Medicine.
There’s no part of me that is going to be a doctor. I don’t study it, I have no plans to, but it still fascinates me. Anyway, I grabbed one of the first books I saw called “Every Patient Has a Story” which was the real life account of several amazing/unusual medical stories as told by the doctors who treated them. Sounds interesting to me. However, I didn’t read any more than 7 pages of it.
It was much like other books I had read and I realized that I didn’t want to read a book similar to others I had read. I wanted something totally new. That book is probably really great and I bet I missed out by not giving it a fair shot, and maybe one day I will read it- just not today- or anytime soon.
Not only did I not read the book, it took me almost 2 months to return it.
You’re allowed to keep items for 3 weeks (which is all anyone needs anyway, truly), then it starts costing you. 20 cents per day. My late fee was $5.60. 28 extra days beyond the free 3 weeks. Embarrassing!
So I wasn’t off to a great start with this “return to the library” plan.
Then yesterday, 13 days into the new year, I went back to the library.
This time it was different. I decided to do the opposite of what came natural, and look for only items that I was unfamiliar with. I also wanted to check out more than books. The library offers a wide range of entertainment- from books to music, to dvds and magazines, books on tape and cd, and there are lots of activities for children and adults alike.
I wound up checking out 2 albums of musicians I don’t know about, 2 “coffeehouse mystery” novels- a genre I would not veer towards ordinarily, and 3 movies.
After paying my fee, I checked those 7 items out- FOR FREE- and put an alert on my phone of their due date so they will remain free. 🙂
I plan to read 52 new books this year. And find new music and movies I’ve never otherwise heard of. I’m going to soak up a lot of knowledge and entertainment, and it’s all going to be free.
I can’t wait to see what the library does for me this year.