January 26, 2023
My last trip to the library was a bonanza of books. A pile I had placed on hold were waiting for me, and I returned home eager to determine which one I would read first. (Moonflower Vine by Jetta Carleton won, by the way–and it is a gem.)
I knew that more than likely I would decide not to read each one. I would at least read the first few pages of each one, but not more than a few pages if what I read didn’t appeal, didn’t spark interest in the characters, the writing, or the plot to come. I no longer feel obligated to read something because it is on my list or someone has recommended it or because I think it is a book I “should” read. I have a long TBR list and even though I am a fast reader and dedicate parts of everyday for reading, I know I will never read every title I want to read. (An aside: I hope when I die I have a book in my hand.)
How grateful I am for the library. I request books knowing I can test the temperature, dip my toe in, but then I can retreat to shore if the book is too cold or too warm. And then I can return the book to the library for someone else’s pleasure.
Public libraries will always be on the top of my favorites list, so when I heard about what lawmakers in North Dakota are trying to do, I could feel my own temperature begin to boil.
A bill has been proposed by the House Majority Leader of Dickinson, ND to ban books with sexually explicit material and books that depict gender identity from PUBLIC libraries. Librarians who refuse to remove banned titles could face up to 30 days in prison. https://www.nbcnews.com/nbc-out/out-politics-and-policy/north-dakota-weighs-ban-sexually-explicit-library-books-rcna66271
This proposed bill is not about protecting children or anyone else, but it is about censorship.
If you live in North Dakota or have ties to North Dakota, it is time to speak up and support the gift of freedom that public libraries offer. Wherever you live, support your public libraries and librarians.
What do you love about your public library? I would love to know.
14 thoughts on “Book Report: My Love Affair with Public Libraries”
Being an only, I was a lonely kid at times as we moved a lot. My mother sent me off to the library! There I became immersed in Betsy Tacy books, a series by Maud Hart Lovelace.
I spent hours wishing I was Betsy, living in Spring Valley Minnesota in the early 1900’s, having adventures with her friends.
I was never lonely once I discovered the library and reading.
I relate to everything you said, except that I wasn’t an only child, but I was the oldest and often in charge of my two younger sibs. Oh, and we lived in Mankato, MN one year and that is where Maud Hart Lovelace lived. I love the Betsy Tacy books–maybe it would be fun to reread them.
Loved your post. It normalised for me the way I tend to look a bit like a library book hoarder at first glance 🙂 🙂 with a big ‘sampler’ stack of books on the coffee table) but I’m with you…if I’m not having fun, I have no problem ditching the book for another. I tell myself I can always come back to it another time, and sometimes I do…but oh the joy when a gem is discovered in the stack!
How awful that libraries are in danger. They are such a gift and such a lifeline.
We are like spirits!
The smell of public libraries! (the Bookmobile of my youth has a particular smell)
I feel at home immediately.
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I don’t see anyone banning pornography on the internet. Apparently it’s okay to watch but not read.
My Mom took us from our small town to the big Pontiac City Library when I was three or four? I’ve had library love for almost 80 years! At least once a week I visit our main library to pick up reserved books, then look at the “new books” shelves, then the “Staff recommendations,” and then wander the stacks.
Yesterday I returned a bag of books, some not fully read, and two reluctantly returned: Water for the Flowers by Valerie Perrin, and Natural Histories, stories by Andrea Barrett. Both are on highly recommended and a to-buy list.
I too came home with a bag-o-books, including two by Barrett, and chose The Book Haters Book Club by Gretchen Anthony as a first light read. Turns out this book includes recommended books by Minnesota, and other Midwest authors, and independent bookstores. What fun!!
You can guess how I feel about banning books. Terrifying!
The Valerie Perrin book is a favorite. I’ve not heard of the Gretchen Anthony book–will have to check on that! Happy reading!
I found a 2022 NPR online article that stated: “To counteract the campaigns challenging books, the American Library Association (ALA) is launching a nationwide initiative meant to empower readers to fight censorship.” Here is the initiative that we can all sign: https://uniteagainstbookbans.org/
Thank you so much for this.
I have loved libraries and books since I was a little girl. My mom took me and my sister there all the time; for that, I am grateful. I’m still a fan of libraries and use two local ones on a frequent basis. I love library book sales, too.
Another thumbs up for libraries!