The last free space
The library is one of the only places we can visit that are completely free and expect nothing from us.
The quote above from a former intern is not verbatim, but I did capture the point in my paraphrasing: The library offers so much for the low, low price of free, taxes aside. That point has frequently popped into my head over the last couple years, especially so a couple weeks ago when I took my daughter for her first library visit since the pandemic began. On a side note, some habits created during the pandemic—such as avoiding the library—have been difficult to break, so renewed options are not always easy to identify. I wish it hadn't taken us so long to return to the library.
On our visit, my daughter and I hijacked our local branch's reading room, as she brought a wave of books for me. She then bounced around between the various toys and puzzles in the children's area. And when we were ready to leave, we got her a library card and checked out a few books under her name so that we could continue the fun at home. As the librarian handed over my daughter's new library card, I couldn't help thinking of the phone book scene from The Jerk, but perhaps that reaction was a defense mechanism for dealing with the fact my Lil Bit is growing up so fast.
I've been leaning into my daughter's recent love of the library, making it a part of our weekend routine. I've also been using the library for my own interests, checking out books again and at least temporarily putting ebooks on the digital shelf. I also recently discovered that another of my city's library branches is opening a maker space, and today I went through a brief orientation. I'm eager to see what classes the branch will offer and what groups will form around the new program. And as I'm writing this post at that same library, I again hear that intern's words echoing.
If nothing else, libraries deserve credit for being a free way to get out of the house while getting reprieve from the Texas summer heat.