Saturday, June 26, 2021

For the Love of Libraries

On my last roadtrip, I got stranded at a library. That's the short story. The long story is that it got me thinking on how much I really do love libraries and why they still matter in today's society.

Roadtrip Story

I've never made it a goal to visit libraries on a roadtrip, with the exception of two presidential libraries. While on a 12-hour roadtrip from Texas to Iowa with my boyfriend and brother, my car failed to start at the Love's in Tonkawa, OK--a town that takes up less than five square miles. Flash forward to several hours later, and we'd ruled out the battery being an issue and gotten a tow by a nice man who was also the local gravedigger.

Since the body shop had no waiting room, it was scorching hot, and we had a few hours to wait before hopefully getting the repair taken care of, the locals gave us two suggestions: cross the street to the library to wait and walk down to the stop sign and take a right to find the cafe. 

So that's what me, my boyfriend, and brother did.

Not until we were inside dealing cards at a table in the YA section did I realize that I hadn't stepped foot in a library since they'd all closed during 2020 (except to vote in the presidential election, but that wasns't a bookish experience). I recognized more titles than I thought I would since I've been a bit of an unplugged bookworm lately, and never a huge YA reader. Admiring covers and flipping through pages will always be a calming and magical experience for me.

While there I also realized that libraries for me represent all the small-town things I love. Being able to walk to places and explore. Young boys stopping in to cool down after an unsupervised bike ride around town. The tow-truck-gravedigger-cemetery-keeper man who helped us. Strangers who ask where you come from and where you're going. Cafes with booths, real menus, hometown cooking, and only two young waitresses. And a library at the heart of it all with a book for everyone.

If you're going to get stranded next-to-nowhere for six hours, I highly recommend killing time in the library. (And yes, we got safely back on the road that day.)

Why Libraries Still Matter

Here are my actual thoughts on why I think libraries are still relevant and meaningful in this modern society: 

The books are free--that's the obvious answer. Books aren't cheap, so whether you need one for a school project or can't afford to purchase your TBR list, libraries are a great resource for everyone. I hardly go anymore and still save money. Lots of libraries have movies, music, audiobooks, and free digital library programs as well. I'm also more likely to pick up a random book and start reading it if it's free, and I'm more likely to finish a book (or not) if it's only mine for two weeks.

The deeper reason is that a world without access to books is dooming itself. Yes, there are other ways to get books than a library, but it offers a variety for free to anyone who walks through the doors to browse. It's the most conducive to both access and discovery, so I think it should always be an option. The more walls that are put up between people and books, the fewer people they will influence. And since most libraries are not opposed to carrying even "controversial" books like To Kill a Mockingbird, Tom Sawyer, and Gone with the Wind, they present the option of critical thinking and freedom of thought. That's something that's getting harder to find in today's world. So go find it in a library.

Libraries also happen to make me really happy and get my creativity jumpstarted unlike anything else. Maybe now I will begin planning stops at libraries for future roadtrips.


Do you have a favorite library or library experience? Why do you think libraries still matter?


  1. Storms yes. Libraries are the best, and no matter how much one appreciates them, it will always be short of the appreciation they deserve.

  2. Growing up there was no library near me. I depended on the bookmobile that made a visit to our elementary school once a month. Other books were purchased at Woolworths for very little money.

    1. How fun! Perhaps people valued the books even more then since they weren't always available

  3. I did not have a library in my neighborhood. Fortunately, my older sister was an avid reader and had a lot of books from her youth. I did get to visit the bookmobile at my elementary school.

    1. So neat! I wish bookmobiles were still a more common thing

  4. This was so fun to read! I especially like this: that libraries represent all the small-town things we love. Some pieces of life are just beautiful and reminiscent with so many memories and stories. ♥ Thanks for sharing, Abi! *hugs*

  5. I love libraries! Love the story of how you ended up in one.

    1. Me too! It was an interesting adventure for sure, but it was so nice to be in a library again.

  6. Ugh, I love libraries with my whole heart, so if I could hug this post, I would. <3

    1. I feel this haha. The bigger and prettier the better, of course, but I always grew up around plain little ones, and this one was no different. No matter what, lots of books = greatness

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