I happen to live right down the block from a Queens Public Library. That being said, I have only recently, at the age of 20, decided to get a library card. I mean, I had one when I was younger for the purposes of middle school summer reading lists, but the time for that has long passed. In the age of digitization, access to books and written media are at our fingertips, so why bother going to the library?
A few months ago, I really wanted to read a particular book. So, naturally, I opened a tab on my laptop and started looking for a copy. I scrolled through the results and weighed my options until I saw the word “library.” Just seeing this word while searching for a book was an epiphanic moment. Suddenly, I thought to myself, “I wonder what that place looks like these days.” So, with low expectations, I walked two minutes down the street, got myself a library card, and walked home with the book I was looking for.
I think the reason people don’t like the idea of going to the library is because they think it would be so much more convenient to use digital sources. Maybe there are scenarios where that is the case, but for the price of a one-time $2 card activation fee and 10 minutes of my time, I was able to get what I wanted, along with two other books. I had a moment where I felt as though I had stolen something, but no, the library was just that easy to utilize. In a world where everything is driven by capitalism, everything the public library stands for felt foreign. How interesting is it that I was constantly trying to figure out what the catch was?
For so many people, these resources are a necessity. People who do not have access to computers, WiFi, printers, etc at home rely on the library. Further than that, people who may not even have a home can come to the library to have a roof over their head for a few hours and have access to the internet, where they can look for housing or employment opportunities. I am fortunate enough that a library is more of a casual resource, but it means so much more than that for a community. Digitization may be easier in many ways, but we can’t forget the value a physical library holds. The library is an invaluable space, a means of access, or even just a place with a calming atmosphere. Bottom line, go visit your local library, borrow a book, or just go for the feeling of peaceful energy you won’t find anywhere else. You think you know what a library is, but if you hadn’t visited one for as long as me, you’ll find it completely almost otherworldly. I guarantee you’ll find something you didn’t even know you were looking for.