Tag Archives: books

When’s the last time you were in a public library?

That’s the question posed to me after I shared a post about the impending closing of Philadelphia’s public library system. I assume the thought behind the inquiry was that no one really uses libraries anymore so what’s the big deal? I say that public libraries are still a big deal to many people and I am one of them.

When is the last time you used the services of a public library? Was it back when you were still trying to understand the Dewey Decimal System and the card catalog? For me, I’d say about three weeks ago. I meant to go yesterday but had a bunch of errands to run and didn’t make it. I have a library card for every city I’ve ever lived in. Poughkeepsie, Brooklyn, Chapel Hill, Raleigh, Philadelphia. I still have the cards! I use public libraries for a quiet place to get away, a place to use the printer or wireless internet access. I *gasp* check out books and have been known in the past to check out movies as well. When I was a kid, I loved to go to the library and look at the microfiche from years past. In fact, I went into a local branch of TD Banknorth two days ago which used to be called the Poughkeepsie Savings Bank. It’s an old building and must have been a bank back when folks drove down Market Street with a horse and buggy. There were framed pictures of the city back then – black and white scenes capturing daily life of a time long gone by. While I was waiting to see the next teller I thought to myself, “I should go by the library and look up some more of these photos.” See, I’m the kind of person who likes to do that stuff every now and again. When I’m struck with the desire to borrow a book, flip through microfiche, or just have some peace I’m glad I can go to a local library branch and do so.

I get the other side though, I do. You can rent movies through Netflix and RedBox or you can watch them on your computer. You can read books online or get a Kindle and carry ebooks wherever you go. Many Americans have internet access at home or at work. Starbucks and Barnes & Noble provide big cushy chairs you can lounge in all day. What use do public libraries serve in 2009? As a person who has access to all of those things but still uses the library on occasion, I feel that attitude is pretty elitist and doesn’t consider the numerous people who don’t have access. Continue reading


Filed under current events, Pay Attention!, Politics, Routine Ramblings

Reading is fundamental

In class today, some chick made a comment that to have a bright and motivated child, you have to sit down and read to them. I immediately thought, “well, nobody sat down and read to me and I’m remarkably bright!” I think I’m sort of an anomaly though. While no one really sat down and read books with me, reading was always encouraged by example in my household.

I initially grew up with my grandmother and she loved to read romance novels. She had a bookcase full of paperback novels. Covers with long-haired men clutching porcelain-skinned women with heaving breasts in a castle. In elementary school I grabbed those books and would read them, devour them. Sure, it was fun because they had “grown-up” things inside but nothing too dirty. You kind of need some foundational knowledge of sex to begin with if you’re going to decipher lines like, “then he un-sheathed his powerful sword and impaled the center of my pulsing love.” Um, okay. If you’re not familiar with romance novels, you might not realize that they’re more than trashy books for housewives. The authors of those books research them like crazy. I learned so much about history since many of the books are set long, long ago.

The book fair at school was so much fun. Where else could you buy Judy Blume books, unicorn folders and kitten bookmarks? I loved getting those little paper leaflets a week before the book fair advertising what would be for sale. I’d take it home and circle what I wanted, then show it to my grandma who would give me the money. Then on the day of the book fair, our teachers would take us to the library where cases of books would be opened to display all the wares. Maybe I just liked buying something or maybe I just liked kitten bookmarks. I don’t know.

Then there was this bookstore called Bookworms. Sometimes my aunt, my grandpa and I would all go there. It was a place where you could take your used books and get credit to buy other books. There were tall shelves filled with paper- and hard-backed books. The best thing was they had two aisles dedicated to teen books. Man, I would spend time going all through the shelves picking up 4 or 5 books per visit. My favorite area was the Babysitters Club area. I don’t know if you know this about me, but I’ve read every single Baby Sitter’s Club book written up until 1996 (they stopped being published in 2000), including the Super Specials. I loved Ann M. Martin and her tales of the diverse babysitters in fictional Stonybrook, CT. I wrote Ms. Martin who wrote back telling me how to start my own club. I failed at that, by the way. There are no babysitter’s clubs in the hood. :(

While no one really told me it was important to read or sat down and read to me, reading was a valuable past time. Even my mom, who is anything but a model parental example, likes to sit still and read. I think that contributed to my love for books and for my thirst for knowledge. I like historical fiction, Asian fiction and books dealing with the immigrant experience. When I like someone, I usually buy them a book. Call me corny, but I think it’s romantic to lay in bed with someone and you both read quietly to yourselves. Nowadays, I have no time to read anything besides law books, cases and depositions. I think that will be one of the best things after the Bar – getting back to books.

I think in the future (when I’m out from under some of this education debt) I’d like to support public libraries. Become a patron of sorts. I’m kind of afraid for the future of institutions like libraries and I think they’re really important. Perhaps libraries need to do more to fit into today’s world and appeal to today’s youth but they ought not become relics. I still have library cards from Chapel Hill, Wake County and Brooklyn libraries. I need to cop one for the Philadelphia Free Library, while I’m talking.

What do you like to read? Do you have time to do it anymore?


Filed under Routine Ramblings