My World Just Got A Little Bigger

"The library is kind of a dinosaur."

Let me give you a piece of advice. Don't say that to Virginia. She takes exception to a statement like that. I know. I learned the hard way.

But before you either agree or disagree with that claim, let me tell you how I came to that conclusion. 

I'm a techie kind of person as many of you reading this are, too. In fact you're probably reading on your favorite handheld device. I love to use my iPhone. It's my camera, my email device, my window to the world and my only phone (I haven't had a landline since 2009). I feel like I have the world in the palm of my hand. And yes, I read blogs, magazines and even books on it.

I like to to learn so I read. A lot. I buy books from Amazon and pay to download e-books and audio books. I can find videos on YouTube to learn how to build a patio with a fire pit. 

So if I have access to the world from anywhere in the world, why in the world would I visit the library? They probably don't have the books I'm interested in anyway. Except, as I learned, they do.

How many times have you paid good money for a book and didn't read it? I have hundreds of dollars of books sitting on my bookshelf and on my Kindle that are just waiting for me. Some have been waiting on me for a couple of years. I tell myself that I'll eventually get to them. I will, but that's money tied up on a title I may not even like.

"Why would you do that? Why wouldn't you check it out for free?"

That was Virginia's question to which I had no answer. She got me. I smiled that goofy smile - that same smile your kid gives you when you ask them why they did something stupid, like deciding to cut their own hair. I shrugged my shoulders. I had no good response. So I made one up. I told Virginia that I didn't think the books I wanted to read were here... plus, I have my Prime membership, so...

The truth was, though, that I had lost touch with the library. 

It's one of those places that you can easily take for granted. As a kid I went to Storytime and I even remember learning some Spanish the summer before 3rd grade. (I can still count to 10; uno, dos, tres...) Back then library was a cool place to visit! Going downstairs to the childrens area was a treat. It had that smell of books. It was quiet. There were those huge circular benches in bright colors. My friends were there. 

But something happened. Something changed. I grew up, got married, started a family. For a long time I stopped reading anything longer than a magazine article. Books? Didn't have time. I lost touch with the library - and I lost touch with learning. Oops.

But the library remained, patiently waiting on me and you to come back. And now I'm at a point where I appreciate the value of having a local library. My world has gotten bigger as a result. What I've learned is that the library isn't a dinosaur on the edge of extinction. It has evolved. 

I didn't know I could do that at the library.

For some reason I assumed the library of today was the same as the library of my childhood. In a lot of ways it is. It's a beautiful building; a mix of historic and modern design. It still is filled with books and much of the same tables, chairs and desks. And yet it's embraced the very technology that wants to threaten its purpose.

For example, you can use the Bridges link to access all sorts of books, e-books and audiobooks. Fiction and non-fiction titles and various collections. Right now there is a featured collection of books on baseball called "Batter Up" which even includes the title, Baseball for Dummies. Yes, that "Dummies" series.

Another example is Learning Express. Did you know you can learn Adobe Photoshop here? For free? Or you can take prepare for high school equivalency testing, or prepare for future skills in the Career Center. All for free. You should check it out.

I'm guessing there are many people who think like I thought... that the library is a dinosaur. Thankfully - happily - it's not. I'm glad I figured it out and I'm hoping you will, too.