Culture Family Life

A love letter to libraries

I know that I am not alone when I say that we, as humans, find a lot of solace in libraries. They are temples of knowledge, housing collections of stories and dreams alike on their shelves. Libraries are as much a part of our culture as anything else. People have relied on these spaces for warmth, insight, and marvel for centuries. In a way, they hold the key to all of our stories,

I love libraries, and I am terrified to see their eventual demise, especially as our world becomes almost entirely digital. They are gems from the past that have maintained vitality no matter the circumstances or happening outside of their walls. Not to mention they are the cornerstones of entire communities, maybe even countries, granting light and stability to people when nothing, or no one, else seemed able to. They offer more than just books; they offer entry into a space that seems more like a sanctuary run by people grounded in compassion, commitment, creativity, and resilience.

People have relied on these spaces for warmth, insight, and marvel for centuries.

I used to go to the library near my grandparents’ house every other Friday. For the most part, my mom took my brothers and me there to get a new book for school or to see what DVDs we could bring home to watch that evening. But I remember roaming around, starstruck, in between the tall shelves, wondering about the people who wrote each and every single one of those books and how long it might have taken to get them all here.

Most weeks, my mother let me get two books instead of one. I could spend hours there if it was permitted. I always liked watching my mom pick her books for the week, too. She seemed so sophisticated and gentle while scanning the shelves, yet she never knew exactly what she was looking for. If it was winter, afterward we would all pile back into the car with our hardcover books and grab a slice of pizza. If it was summer, we would walk to the Italian Ice shop down the street for some cream ice – those were the best days. 

I fear that libraries have been taken for granted, even in my own life, and am always spellbound to find them chock full of unexpected people, doing unexpected things, with unexpected passions. There is absolutely nothing that compares to the feeling, the pure excitement in my stomach, that erupts every time I am searching in a library for the perfect tale to dig into. A trip to the library seems, to me, to be enchanted. I become whimsical, enveloped by the completeness and simplicity of the entire journey.

Even the smell of a library is impossible to replicate because of its specificity and poignance. I am reminded of sandalwood, dusk, and a particular, antiquated, dampness. Its familiarity is beyond comforting. The air itself seems to be saturated in possibility and imagination. 

I feel at home while pattering around and tracing my fingers between the shelves of books. I fall in love while blowing the dust off of the covers, revealing bright colors and exquisite lines. I spend hours crinkling through the aged, already yellowing, pages of novels wondering which I will pick this time. It is never an easy decision, and I always leave with dozens underneath my arms wondering if the others will still be there when I return the next week. But, that’s the beauty of libraries, isn’t it? Every visit is entirely different from the last and there is no telling what you might stumble upon. Yet each visit is also starkly familiar. 

The air itself seems to be saturated in possibility and imagination.

Books have changed so much of my life, with plotlines, characters, and lessons that have been woven into nearly everything I do – that is every decision, every consideration, and everything that I have grown to appreciate or even pay a little bit more attention to. Books are there to remind me of what’s important, and when I’m not so sure, they’re there for me to lean on. Without libraries, though, I might have never been allowed membership into such a world of splendor. 

Life Hacks Tech Now + Beyond

8 Phenomenal things you didn’t know you could do with your library card

The ways people engage with information and entertainment are changing. However, two things remain true: there’s nothing that can beat old book smell (yet) and having fun isn’t hard with a library card. Libraries across the U.S. are ramping up their tech game to stay relevant and useful to the communities they serve.

90S Nerd GIF by chuber channel
[Image description: gif of cartoon characters from Arthur walking with library cards]
Every library is different, but here’s a rundown of some popular and game-changing offerings.


[image description: Overdrive logo]
[image description: Overdrive logo]
Overdrive is an ebook and audiobook app. It has changed my life. Typically a rule-follower, one of my only memories of getting in trouble as a kid was in second grade when I got in trouble for (not so) stealthily reading at my desk during a math lesson. (In my defense, I was at a crucial point in Harriet Tubman’s journey to freedom!) I still want to read books at my desk instead of doing work and with the Overdrive app, now I kind of can! Data-entry is significantly less boring when you’ve got a murder mystery unfolding.

The app works just like the library in that you check out audiobooks and ebooks for a limited number of days and can return or renew them. If the book you want isn’t available, you can just request it and then as soon as it is available it’s automatically added to your shelf.

2. Flipster

[image description: Flipster logo]
[image description: Flipster logo]
The Flipster app offers users access to best selling magazines. You can catch up on soaps or the latest in architecture all from your mobile device and all for free (yay taxes!). You can even download a few before your next flight so that you won’t be (as) tempted by the gift shop closest to your gate. More room in your carry-on and more money in your wallet!

Tiffany Haddish Thank You GIF by Saturday Night Live
[Image description: Tiffany Haddish saying “Without your tax dollars I wouldn’t be standing here]

3. Bookshare

[image description: Bookshare logo]
[image description: Bookshare logo]
Bookshare is an amazing app helping individuals with reading barriers access literature. It’s an ebook library for people with dyslexia, learning disabilities, visual impairments, physical disabilities, and other reading barriers. Users can listen to audio, follow along with highlighted text, or read extra large font from computers, tablets or mobile devices. In addition to being offered by some libraries, it is also free for all U.S. students and offers discounts in other countries.

4. Pronunciator

[image description: Pronunciator logo]
[image description: Pronunciator logo]
Pronunciator is a language learning platform that’s accessible via web and mobile. You can watch videos, listen to audio or even tune into live 30 minute classes taught weekly.  It makes world (language) domination possible with curricula in 87 different languages.

5. Lynda

[image description: Lynda logo]
[image description: Lynda logo]
For lifelong learners, Lynda is an online education platform that has classes and courses for developing business, tech and creative skills. You can learn to code in different languages, develop graphic design skills, and train in digital marketing all from the comfort of your couch. This site is perfect for recent graduates realizing that they need to beef up their resumes or for folks looking to explore a new trade. It’s run by Linkedin, so if you complete a course you get a LinkedIn certificate for potential employers to see.

6. Kanopy

[image description: Kanopy logo]
[image description: Kanopy logo]
This streaming service is dedicated to indie, classic and documentary films. It’s available via the web or app and is exclusively accessible with a library card. This is your opportunity to be classy as heck on a small paycheck. Here’s another freebie: try using these phrases to sound like you know what you’re talking about when discussing all of the intellectual films you’ll be watching with your friends.

“It lacked verisimilitude.”

“[The director]’s choices were refreshingly naive.”


Black And White Love GIF
[Image description: gif of Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s taking off her sunglasses]

7. Hoopla

[image description: hoopla logo]
[image description: hoopla logo]
Hoopla is also a streaming service, for both movies and audiobooks, available via web and mobile. Some phrases for discussing content streamed on Hoopla:

“It was okay.”

“I really liked it!”


8. Online Newspaper Subscriptions

endless print GIF by gfaught
[image description: illustrated gif of newspaper going through rollers]
One Christmas I asked my dad for a subscription to the New York Times only to find out approximately one week later that I could get the New York Times for free via my local library. I felt very silly but now you don’t have to! Many colleges and universities offer free access to various publications, not just academic journals. Also, some libraries that don’t offer outright subscriptions have digital passes that work for a limited amount of time from your home, so be sure to ask.

If you weren’t already a library nerd, you now have 8 more reasons to join the club. At the very least, be sure to check your local library before spending cash on the internet! And if you don’t think you’ll ever use your library resources, make sure to get a card anyway, it helps ensure that libraries will stay around for anyone who may need it in the future.