I’ve seen this meme thing floating around on social media for a while, now, but my friend Bill sent it to me last night, saying it reminded him of me. Since he’s seen what my library used to be… yeah. He’s not wrong! But it makes me happy, because I was that little girl coming home from the library with as many books as her arms could carry. I was the kid who was allowed to take books from the back storage room, or from the archives, since the librarians were either fed up with my wanting more books than they had shelved, or they knew I’d take care of them. Or some combination of both. I definitely got a sense of exasperation from the Alaskan librarian who let me into the storage room, where I discovered all of Edgar Rice Burroughs books, in hard bindings and possibly original editions. She was, I suspect now looking back, frustrated with my asking to go get books from the main collection, when she was supposed to keep me in the children’s room.
But I digress. I’m older, now, and the library is no longer part of my routine. I’m not sure when it stopped being a vital stop on my errands, possibly when I moved to Ohio and had the university library and no time nor energy to explore what was a wealth of information at my fingertips. Perhaps it goes back further than that, even, to the explorations of ebooks when I couldn’t leave the house, nor reliably check out books when I wasn’t sure how long it would be until I could return them. It wasn’t just that I could nurse a baby in one arm, and turn pages on a computer with the free hand (this was long before ereaders were more than a wild rumor. I can remember online discussions of e-ink paper…) it was also that I really had little freedom, and the freedom to get in the car and go to the library, or a bookstore was certainly not a thing I could think about. There were rare outings to bookstores, but the money to buy all the books. Ok, I don’t have that even now. There’s a reason my Amazon wishlist is as long as it is!
Because now, when I have the means, and the transportation, and maybe even the time to go to the library or a bookstore, I haven’t got the time to read. I sit here and look at my art bookshelf and note how many titles on it are as yet unread. So many. I know the main library out in the rest of the house is the same way. Most of my reading time is taken up with ebooks, for ease of access. But still. I want more books. Who knows when there will be an emergency? I have to have enough reading material to get me through that.
What sort of emergency? I don’t know. But I am sure that such a thing exists. Because I have the emergency books all prepared for it.