Readers' Favorite

February 8, 2024

It's Library Lover's Month and I LOVE My Library

by Donna Huber

Libraries have always been a part of my life. Growing up we had books at home but regular trips to the library kept the supply fresh and introduced me to new favorites: new favorite authors, new favorite characters, new favorite genres, new favorite formats. A trip to the library was like traveling to a new land - one full of new discoveries.

I have early memories of following my sister around the library and her trying to get me to read her favorite horse books. She had me check out a book about Seabiscuit. However, the book was above my reading ability and I didn't finish it before it had to be returned. I couldn't figure out what book it was when I got a little older. I watched the 2003 movie Seabiscuit starring Toby McGuire in the small hope that it would based on the book but if not at least I would get some closure of the story of Seabiscuit.

I remember discovering the Bobbsey Twins and rushing through the periodicals section to get the latest issue of Highlights Magazine.

I remember going to the local university's (and it's a BIG university) library in high school while researching a term paper. I now work at that university and have used the multiple libraries on campus for research. I also occasionally remember that they have "regular" books and check out general reading material.

My college summers (except the summer I took classes) and holiday breaks, were spent volunteering at the library. I went from being a shelf-er (returning books to the shelves that either had been checked-in or in the case of the children's section books that had been pulled out but not put back) to manning the circulation desk on my own. 

In my state one library card gives you access to just about every public library in the state. I live on the edge of three regional library systems which gives me physical access to 5 libraries. This was great a few years ago when I was trying to catch up on all the Avenger Universe movies (I was like 10 movies behind). At that time DVDs weren't shared through inter-library loan so I needed to physically go to the library to check it out. 

graphic image of Star Trek Picard season 3
I recently checked out the 3rd season of Picard.

Now all library material can be shared between just about all libraries in the state. But still, there are times when what I want isn't available at a brick-and-mortar library and that is when the digital library is such a great resource. While I will always prefer the functions that were available in Overdrive, I use Libby at least weekly (I'm listening to an audiobook as I write this). I listen to a ton of audiobooks. Last year, 75 books out of the 167 books I read were audiobooks. I do get a few through Netgalley but the majority come through the library.

I often see people asking about where to get free ebooks online. While some are probably looking for pirated ebooks, I think some people just don't know that they might have access to ebooks and other digital materials through their library. A lot of libraries subscribe to Libby. Even at the digital library, I'm not limited to just what my local library owns. My state has made it possible for me to access holdings from other libraries in the state. 

audiobook cover of historical fiction novel Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus
I waited almost 4 months to get this audiobook through Libby
So worth the wait!

At the end of last year, my library regional system subscribed to Hoopla. And now I have even more materials at my fingertips. I already have a list of audiobooks that I hadn't been able to get through a physical library or Libby. There are also television shows and movies available. I'm excited about the Binge Pass that will give me access to The Great Courses. I'm sure I will make great use of this access this summer when there are little new things to watch on TV.

audiobook cover of mystery Anatomy of a Murder by Robert Traver
The February book for the Bogart Mystery Club.
I'm getting the audiobook from Hoopla.

In addition to getting access to books and movies, I find several events and activities at the library that not only educate or entertain but also provide a sense of community and friendship. I regularly attend 2 different book clubs at 2 different libraries in the area. One book club reads post-apocalyptic novels (as well as some dystopian and alternate history novels) and the other group reads mysteries.

audiobook cover of post-apocalyptic novel Alas Babylon by Pat Frank
The March book for the After the End book club at the Athens library.
I have a hold on the audiobook and it is in transit from a library in south Georgia.

Last year, I attended 3 storytelling events - the first was for Halloween, the second was about a couple that escaped slavery as posing as an elderly, sickly master and slave, and the third was Victorian Christmas ghost stories. At Christmas, I went to a workshop on gift wrapping. So if you thought libraries only had programs for kids, think again. My library offers a regular knitting group where people can chat while working on their own projects (and I don't think you just have to knit but can crochet or do needlework), we also have twice a month knitting/crotcheting help for those knew to the craft. Recently they have started an adult D&D group. There's a memoir writing group and an ESOL group. There is an afternoon of board games being offered at the end of the month and I think I will check it out. So if you are looking for some free activities, check out your library.

photo of Jeanette Waddell at storytelling event.
Storyteller Jeanette Waddell. She told the story of Ellen and William Craft who escaped slavery

I love reading, but I also like gardening. Last fall, one of the libraries close to me started a seed library - just planted some sugar daddy peas that I got from them. When I go to my book club meeting in March, I will be checking out more seeds. Seed libraries are growing in popularity and more and more libraries have them.

Libraries are so much more than just books. If you don't have a library card you are missing out on so much. If you are a library lover, what do you love about your library?

Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour

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