Posted by: Matt | July 30, 2007

Libraries Redux

The post last week about my experience reading at the library was surprisingly popular.  It is by far my most read post.  The link seems to have been passed around through emails and posted to a listserv.  I also found that I was a bit misunderstood and thought I’d take the chance to explain.

This experience has not led me to abandon libraries as many of the comments feared.  I most likely have abandoned the idea of reading in a library but I will continue to use it to check out books.  Libraries are a wonderful resource and I am lucky to live in an area where we have a well supported library system.  I have found nearly every book I’ve ever looked for in our system.  I know that is not the case for everyone.

I also understand that the library must be made attractive to the community to continue to receive funding.  It’s just a shame that this sometimes comes at the cost of the reader.  The particular branch that I visited that day is not very large.  It does not have a quiet room or section.  And if it did have a quite section it wouldn’t be remote enough to avoid the noise emanating from other areas.  It is also awkwardly designed, it should probably be remodeled completely.  Of course I realize that they don’t have unlimited resources for that sort of thing.

Again, I understand the difficulties faced by the library system and it’s librarians.  But I find it a bit strange that stores like Barnes & Noble and Borders are more conducive to reading than a library.  So you won’t find me reading at the library, but you will find me at the checkout counter with a stack of books.



  1. I didn’t realize your other post had become so controversial! I guess I never came back after leaving my comment.

    But seriously, free books! That’d be hard to abandon even if there were the possibility of snipers in the stacks.

  2. Dew – Yes, it’s sometimes hard to believe that you can get all of that at the library for free. It’s great!

  3. Living in DC I can go to ultimate library (of Congress) but the city library system is depressing as all get out. The nice thing is that it is so neglected that they don’t seem to discard much so you can find every book Willa Cather ever wrote or 7 whole shelves of Anthony Trollope.

  4. Oh phooey, I’m so sorry I missed your post because I would have been behind you 100%. Don’t even get me started on my local library. Quiet reading sections are but a dream in a fairy’s eye. Everyone, including the librarians, are babbling at the top of their voices walking through the stacks, people having lessons right by the study carrels, cell phone babblers, high school gigglers, people who’ve taken to the library as a second home and have all their meals there (accompanied by several grocery bags set up everywhere)…napping homeless folks and children running around are the least of my worries there. (And they don’t do so very often anyway.)

    As long as the books aren’t pushed down into some moldy basement to make room for the computers and “community activities” I’m all for giving it tax money but actually use it? Not a chance. Thank god for the university libraries here or I’d be lost. I feel sorry for those less fortunate who can’t afford to pay university fees and have access to a quiet space. You’re exactly right — my local cafes are more conducive to quiet reading. Heck, so is a darn parking lot.

    (As you can tell, huge pet peeve of mine. Huge.)

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