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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Libraries are Love

I never realized how important public libraries were until I didn't have one.

Growing up, trips to the library were a weekly family activity. I was (and still am) a voracious reader and loved filling up the book bag with a variety of interesting reads. Talking to my friend Kristen, she mentioned that she now belongs to three different library systems (Montgomery County, Washington, DC, and her university) and I immediately turned green with envy.

I miss the library. Sure there's a fantastic used book store in Itaewon but used books are always a mixed-bag of choices and require a constant output of money. (Luckily What the Book offers trade-ins so I haven't had to spend much money, instead recycling books in and out of the system.) 

There's so much more freedom with a library though. Think a book looks interesting but you're not sure if you want to commit? Have a friend-recommended book that you're unsure about? Want to get ideas for an upcoming vacation? Libraries are fantastic: borrow a book for a couple of weeks and forget about having to commit to the book for life.

All this goes to show why this story from the New York Times spoke to me. Libraries are a vital public institution and it's sad to hear how so many are closing their doors in these difficult financial times. I especially love this portion:

'Libraries raised me,' Mr. Bradbury said. 'I don't believe in colleges and universities. I believe in libraries....'

I still see plenty of families at the library but I wonder how my generation will raise their children. Is DailyLit, where you can read a book 10 words at a time, the wave of the future? Will we read books via Twitter instead of in physical form? Will books even exist or will our short attention spans gradually phase them out? 

God, I hope not. As fascinating as it seems, I can't even switch over to Kindle. Give me type and paper any day. And that goes for the newspaper, too. I'll keep buying a physical copy of The Washington Post until it's not printed anymore. 

Official countdown to Australia: 4 days


  1. I just happened by my google reader the second you posted this, but I wanted to say how exactly spot on you are! I agree with every word of this post (other than the simple statement on Korea, since I am unfamiliar, but I am sure you're right).

    Thank you, Benjamin Franklin, for the American library system. Free books and real newspapers are my favorite!

  2. i totally agree...i grew up going to the library, too. i am famished for books here! btw, i have a friend who never went to college and knows more than anyone i've ever met because he reads 4-5 books A WEEK!! wishing you a fantastic time in australia!

  3. my family didn't have a lot of money when i was growing up so during the summers when all the other kids would go to summer camp, my parents would drop me and my two older sisters off at the library with a bag of food on their way to work then pick us up 8 hours later. in hindsight, it sounds kinda bad, but i'm glad i got to spend my summer days devouring books instead of playing with arts and crafts while being supervised by some goth punk teenager at the local Y.

    are english books easy to find in korea? my biggest fear is running out of books to read if/when i go there!