>The Library Experience

>‘Tis the season for family gatherings, food, and gifts. No matter how or what you celebrate, just being surrounded by holiday decorations, sounds and smells can bring those warm fuzzies of holidays past.

Kind of like when you walk into a library… You know what I’m talking about.
The rows of bookshelves, the feel of the book spines when you run your hand across them, the smell of paper… doesn’t that bring back memories of your first visit to the library?

The seasonal warm fuzzies are just that … seasonal. You can get that warm fuzzy library experience all year around (except, of course, when we’re closed on holidays).

Remember when you entered the library and the first image you saw was the librarian sitting behind the big desk with her glasses hanging around her neck on a chain. The only sound you heard was the librarian’s rubber stamp clunking back and forth from the ink pad to the check-out card, on which you actually had to write your name. “Shhhh,” occasionally echoed through the whole library making heads turn to see who was getting shushed.

Those too young to remember the card catalog, don’t know what you missed. Sure, finding titles and subjects is quick and easy using the online catalog but sometimes it seems a little distant and detached. There was a more intimate connection when you actually had to flip through the cards, smelling the paper and typewriter ink. You could tell which were the most popular by the slightly ragged edges that would stick out just a little further than the rest.

Ah, those were the days.

The sights, sounds and smells of the library have changed through the times. The card catalog has been replaced by computers. It’s no longer a surprise to see a librarian wearing jeans and sneakers; maybe even having facial piercings and tattoos. When is the last time you have heard, “Shhhh,” in the library? OK, there are times when some people get a little too noisy and they need to be reminded not to yell or scream in the library.

Books no longer show only their spines; now there are displays of books showing their covers – bookstore style. The shelves hold more than just books printed on paper; they include electronic versions of books on CDs and cassettes. They even include computer software, videos, music CDs, etc. We still have magazines and newspapers but we also have online databases to get the same information – paperless. We also have online resources to learn how to fix cars, learn different languages, take practice tests and even find out how many McDonald’s vs. Subways there are.

Just think, the next generation of library lovers will probably remember the library as a place to get free wi-fi, or to download audiobooks to their iPods and MP3 players, play Guitar Hero, etc. No matter when they occurred or what they are; your fondest library memories can be brought back by visiting the library.

We still have rows of shelves full of books and story times. We still have information and entertainment resources. We still have library lovers of all generations coming and making more memories.

How did you become a library lover?

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