Land Of The Free, Welcome To Your Library

I like reading. In fact, I secretly (or not so secretly anymore) believe reading is my superpower. I read pretty fast and I like to read a lot. As a kid, I would fake being asleep whenever my parents came to check on me, my book under the pillow and my heart racing. After a while, they were onto me, and so they’d feel the light bulb above my bed to see if I had been reading. O, how they burned their hands.

Depicted: someone who just burned his hand (and uses a different outlet than my parents, I'd like to add).

Depicted: someone who just burned his hand (and uses a different outlet than my parents, I’d like to add).

Growing up a little older, I really liked the library in my new hometown, Leiden. It is located in what could well be one of the two most beautiful locations in town, and, compared to the small-town library we used to visit, was huge. When I was living in Leiden and studying there, buying books got a little more expensive, so I got myself a library card. For just under 40 euros I could borrow all the books I wanted, an amazing deal! Of course, one can add the monthly late fees, but for any responsible adult, the fee comes down to just over 3 euros a month.

It's at the end of this street, just so you know.

It’s at the end of this street, just so you know.

Now that I moved to the US, the library in my new hometown is less cute. Let’s just say it probably looks as inviting as Stephen King’s garden shed. Luckily, there is another library somewhat nearby, which is bigger and looks like an actual library. Even better, they have an audio course in learning Dutch, so Mrs Missouri can, over time, adequately ask where the rail station is (“Waar is het station?”). The best part, however, is that it’s free. I couldn’t believe it. Free! Free books to borrow! Why doesn’t everybody spend all of their days in the library, reading free books, and drinking free water? I have found the answer. Part of it is that their books are available on Kindle, too. I have found myself delighted in their web collection, but it will be some time before they see my face again.

P.S. Why on earth can digital copies run out? They have one copy of every digital book, so sometimes you have to wait for someone to finish and return their digital(!) copy. What kind of business model is that? Why not charge for the checking out of books, instead of the copies available?

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11 thoughts on “Land Of The Free, Welcome To Your Library

  1. Nice to meet another bibliophile. In Canada digital copies work the same way you describe. Doesn’t make sense to me either–not that I read digital. I don’t like it. I rather have a real book. It’s so much easier on the eyes even if electronically I can bump up the font.
    Ever wondered how your borrowed digital copy disappears at the end of the lending period without any help from you?
    😀 Happy reading.

  2. The arrangement with the ebooks is strange, but it’s my understanding that’s due to the publishers, not the libraries. (I’m not a librarian. If there are any librarians reading, please chime in!)

    When you make it up to Michigan, I’m taking you to my local library. It’s GREAT. It was even named the best small library in American in 2008!

  3. Please visit the St. Louis Public Library main branch at 14th and Olive, if only to look at the architectural restoration (mostly preservation of the woodwork and murals and ceiling gilding). U.S. public libraries were often greatly expanded by Andrew Carnegie, founder and owner of a steel empire, hence ridiculously wealthy. Most U.S. public libraries are funded by local taxes, but there is still a component of private charitable donations.

  4. Have you not been in a Barnes and Noble bookstore? They have a cafe INSIDE the bookstore!!!!!! It’s like Starbucks but surrounded by books!!!!!

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