A few weeks ago I got my first library card. I feel that this happened rather late in life, considering how much I love books. But, one of the downsides of growing up in a small town is that you don't have access to certain things others take for granted, unless, of course, you are willing to pay a ridiculous sum for something big-towners get for free.
This predicament left me with three options if I wanted to read books: (1) get up really early on Mondays (like nine 'o clock) and check out books from Mt. Loafer Elementary (this option was only available during the summers), (2) walk to the park on Wednesday afternoon when the Bookmobile arrived and check out books there (unfortunately, this charming option was only available sporadically, and not at all after I was about 10), or (3) read what we had at home, and after you've read everything you want to read, read the books again, unless you are desperate enough to read Star Trek (I re-read a lot of books).
I guess option 4 would have been to check out books from my own school, but the library hall in Jr. high was claustrophobically skinny and I honestly don't think I even knew where the library was in high school until about my senior year. (Not that it had a good stock of books, anyway.)
But as luck would have it, when I moved to Provo I lived directly across the street from the Provo Library. I always intended to run over there and get my own library card with a picture of a frog on it, but for some reason I never got around to it. The fact that I didn't have time to read for pleasure may have had something to do with it. . . .
Then I moved to Midvale, and I lived here for over a year before I finally got my first library card. My to-read list was getting alarmingly long, and I finally decided that it would be impractical to buy all of them. I was running out of shelf space, after all.
So, feeling like a little kid on the first day of school, I walked into a library and registered for a card. The excitement wore off a bit as I started to take in my surroundings. This library definitely wasn't . . . warm and fuzzy, and it didn't have either of the books I wanted, so I consulted the list of the 20 libraries in the Salt Lake Valley, and found at least three that were closer to my apartment, despite their being located in different cities.
Yesterday I walked into the Sandy Library, feeling like a kid on the first day of school again. This library was much better stocked, much cleaner, and it had a bright and happy Harry Potter corner.
But it still only had one of the books I wanted. I was still a bit disappointed by the size of the library. I'm afraid that after using the BYU library for four years, anything short of the Library of Congress will fail to impress me.
Nonetheless, I checked out a couple of obscure titles and headed home. My excitement at having my own library card was quickly ebbing away. It occurred to me that if I wanted to check out any popular books I would have to plan ahead and put the book on hold and wait for longer than it would take to buy the book on Amazon and have it shipped. I tried not to think about the billions of sticky fingers that had touched the books I had checked out. I was saddened that the books looked ratty and didn't have the new book smell.
I may want to marry every bookstore I walk into, but the only thing I want to do in a library is get out of it, honestly. To me, each book is a special friend that should be treasured forever, not something to be borrowed after millions of others have finished with it.
Suddenly, this whole library thing doesn't seem like such a good deal to me. I think I would still rather spend seven bucks on a book than borrow one for free--this way I'll get more "friends" and I won't have to share them with anyone.