Found this library receipt at my sister’s and had a mini mind bomb go off when I reached the bottom. It said:
Today you checked out 4 items with a total value of $90.86. Please continue supporting your library so that your library can continue supporting you.
First I thought ‘Wow, my sis has high-end taste. She thinks she’s fancy.‘ then I looked and saw she checked out Luminaries, Fan Girl, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown and a Sherman Alexie book – normal awesome stuff. Books she wouldn’t be reading if it were for the library because $90 is a lot of money to spend on 4 books.
The library does support us, but I never thought of it that way before. It doesn’t clothe or feed me dinner and the shelter it provides is temporary (except on hot days when the couch is open and AC blasting), but it feeds my mind far better that I’d be able to on street finds and used book stores alone.
This library also has bookmarks with their hours and address printed on one side, and their history and usage numbers printed on the other. Also, my sister’s library card was designed by a student at the grade school down the street. They had a contest and the winning designs were printed as library cards. How cool is that? I’m telling you, they’re clever kittens.
One of the most confusing things in the world to me is the fact that libraries are actually shutting down. Why? These are the cuddly kittens of institutions. They’re making do with budget cuts, reducing hours and still finding ways to meet the needs of the community by offering classes, job training, providing story times and a space for groups to have meetings. Maybe libraries are starting to quantify their value because that’s how they have to think now. I know nothing of how resources are distributed to them, but it makes sense that those with the highest usage are the ones with the best chance of sticking around. But then where does that leave smaller libraries serving smaller populations even if they’re reaching a higher percentage of people?
Quantifying the value of library usage makes so much sense. I’d love to see a cumulative value of books I’ve checked out from New York Public Library every year. As libraries brainstorm ways to survive these economically stupid years, I hope they also integrate reminders like these. Plus, seeing a cumulative total value of my checkouts would easily motivate me to check out and read even more books. In a way it makes you feel like you’re saving money and money saved is money earned so it’s like the dream of having someone pay me to read has finally come true. Only not really, but the takeaway is the same: Use the library!
So I’ve been thinking about how I love cats – Every single cat except for my last roommate’s weirdo. He was a stray she found in Harlem, brought home and trained him to only respond to his name if sung out extremely loud. SPIDER CAT!!!!! Spider cat soured me on pets for a while and now I live with a boyfriend who also adores animals, but is extremely allergic so still no cat. For now, I’m going to treat my libraries like the cat I’ll never have. I’m going to hug them and water them with my checkouts and take humiliating photos of them in a desperate attempt to turn them into viral Internet celebrities. Soon everyone with a Reddit account will start making library memes and everyone with a Tumblr will post misty photographs of these strange and lovely buildings filled with stories and people on Facebook will post look-at-me-checking-out-a-big-book selfies and people on Instagram will still post photos of their fancifully plated lunch but maybe they’ll include a library book artfully opened in the background…
Or maybe I’ll just disappear into Dance of Dragons and not resurface until libraries rule the world. Because they should.