There was a time in my life where the library was a familiar site. I grew up just a few blocks from a public library, and as I have always been a voracious reader, it was one I frequented quite regularly. The public library was what exposed me to many of the authors that I still love deeply, whose books I've read and re-read many, many time. It was a place I felt as comfortable in as I did at home.
And then I moved to Eau Claire.
I've lived in Eau Claire (with only the occasional summer in Milwaukee) since 1999. And while I've been in this town for a decade, there is one building in this town I have never once entered: The public library.
I feel terrible saying this, and while I've actually known quite a few librarians and students of library science over the years, I've still never bothered to visit my local book-borrowing establishment. Now, while I was in college I often used the University library, but this was for purposes of research and not the pleasure reading that I usually did via a public library. And since ninety-nine percent of what I used the University library for was to access online resources like J-Stor, it barely even counts.
And it's not as if I read any less than I used to. I read quite a bit, and have a nice queue of books I'm anticipating getting through. But these are books that I own myself. Perhaps employment and my ability to purchase books has led to one of the largest reasons for this change in behavior. I can afford to go out and buy the books that I love so much.
The problem here though is that I rarely find myself being exposed to new authors. If I think about the last five books I've read, all of them are by authors I've been following for years. I didn't randomly pick any of them off the shelf, because I was (as previously stated) buying them. I didn't want to take a risk, and just stuck to people whose books I knew I liked.
And I think this is the major flaw in my current lifestyle. As much as I love Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Orson Scott Card and Sarah Vowell, if I only stick to their work I'll never find the next author whose work I might love. Libraries for me are about exploring new works. They're about picking up something by someone I've never heard of and giving it a try.
So here I am, resolving to make a change. I will yet again begin to use the public libraries that made me fall in love with reading to start with.
Sadly, I'm going to be moving away from Eau Claire in a few months, so I don't think I'll end up having time to start patronizing the Eau Claire public library. But we're still looking for our next apartment, so maybe I'll make sure it's within walking distance of whatever public library awaits us.
I want to bring back the adventure of not knowing whether or not a book is actually going to be any good.
I wouldn't recommend it. Of course, now that a lot of my favorite authors are passing away (see Robert Jordan and David Eddings), I have no choice but to check out new authors. Of course, the first time I tried to do that, I picked out an author whose book was published posthumously. He was killed in the line of fire as a volunteer NYPD officer. Go figure. Great book however. I'm hoping the author's friend and editor would be persuaded to work on/edit his other works because he was a prolific writer (or so says the editor's note). Check it out - The Wolfman by Nicholas Pekearo (http://www.amazon.com/Wolfman-Nicholas-Pekearo/dp/076535991X/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpi_1)
Way to go! As one of your library science friends, I'm happy you are considering proximity to the library to be an important factor in your housing decision. Of course, if it were me, I would live IN the library, but go figure