I currently owe the Seattle Public Libraries $14.25 in late book fees. This is nothing. I’ve owed and paid far more exorbitant library fines before. In college, when I actually worked at the campus library, I graduated with a $56 fine. “How is that possible?!” you may ask, because fees are tiny at most libraries (25 or 50 cents a day) and because I literally went into the building every single day and have no valid excuse…
This is my confession: I am a hoarder of library books. I’ve been afflicted with this compulsion since I was a child. For a poor immigrant kid with little resources, libraries were damn near magical. Every week, I’d cajole my dad into driving me to the library, where I’d come out carting 20-50 books. Before I had an email address or a social media account (this was even before MySpace), I’d go online to check my King County Library System account and plan out my next holds (curse you, hold limits!). I still have these habits today. I check out far more books than I can read, especially now. Twenty books a week was easy as a kid, but now adult responsibilities (blehhhh) get in the way. I hold and re-hold until I finally have time to read them. I have way too many library items and sometimes lose track of them. I can’t bear not to finish a book, so I keep them beyond their due dates on purpose. I often love them too much to let them go. So, I gladly pay these fines that inevitably crop up because it’s a small price to pay for a vaster world and a vaster mind, for a bit of magic.
Libraries are one my favorite places in the whole world. It is a breathtaking to me that libraries are a thing that exists in the world. Walls and walls of books—FREE books—and anyone can just take them. That’s stunning. What an idea! I’m one of those nerds who has her library card number memorized and whose heart aches at the thought of the Library of Alexandria. Yes, I have my library card number memorized. And yes, I do have opinions about Library of Congress Classification vs. the Dewey Decimal. I love libraries. I’ve written odes to them! Really, though, I have. As much I adore bookstores and supporting them, especially local independent ones, they have never been part of my habit or haunt. Bookstore trips were treats, but library trips were home.
What is the biggest building in the city? No, non-Seattleites, it’s not the Space Needle. No, Seattleites, it’s not the Columbia Tower either. It’s the library… because it has the most stories… bwahahahahahaaaa…
Seriously though, if we’re measuring by metaphorical vastness, I’d make a pretty strong case for the library!
Because we’re moving away in a mere three months, our subleased apartment is very sparsely furnished. We got rid of most of our things, including our bookshelves. It’s difficult to make a place seem like home when it’s only got a mattress and a couple chairs or so. Well, good thing there’s a library right next to us! Not just any library either—the Central Branch of the SPL! It’s massive, architecturally striking, and full of wonderful things. 🙂 Walks to the library in fresh fall air have already been plentiful. A few stacks of books makes any place feel cozy.
I can’t wait until it gets colder. As antithetical as it seems, the descent of winter conjures up feeling of warmth and snugness—the holiday spirit, I guess you could say. When the air outside is crisp and brisk, there’s nothing better than bundling up in a fuzzy blanket with a cup of tea or cocoa and a great book.