Libraries. I LOVE libraries. I love them so much it hurts. I love them almost as much as I love my kids.
Because there is just something amazing about libraries: looking at all the books, how many there are, how many writers started with a blank page and an idea, how many stories are contained within its walls. I also love how quiet libraries are, how introverted they make everyone who enters their doors.
When I go to a new city, the public library is usually one of the first places I visit. The New York Public Library–AMAZING! The Santiago Public Library in Chile–AMAZING (even if almost everything was in Spanish). My small town’s local public library–AMAZING.
And the university I teach at, its library? Just as AMAZING, even though it looks like a 5 story concrete block that would be most useful in the case of a nuclear fall out, but still a place that I cherish.
Which makes me sound like a total hypocrite when I admit that until today I had not been inside the university library in over a year. I guess I’ve been too busy teaching, making any research trips to the library obsolete, and since there’s not a kid’s section, I’ve been visiting only our local library, and let’s face it, I get most of my books from amazon (and yes, I’ve already acknowledged that’s a problem).
ANYWAY, I wandered into the library today NOT to get a book, but instead because I needed a cup of coffee and I heard that last year the powers that be turned part of the second floor into a coffeehouse/social student area.
It’s true. To my shock, almost half of the second floor is now devoted to coffee, pastries, casual magazine and newspaper reading, talking on the phone, and socializing.
I got my coffee and walked to my class feeling kind of dejected. There was nothing on that second floor that really resembled a library, and I was most annoyed with how loud it was. I do not want to go to the library to overhear a girl talking about how wasted she was last night.
I want reverence. Deep thoughts. Insight. The only thing I want to hear is a hushed voice of a librarian pointing to a section, the sound of a page being turned, and maybe, just maybe, the slight annoyance of a pencil on paper.
By the time I got to my class, I was, I’ll admit, a little enraged. So I got up on my soap box and told my class all of this, everything I had been thinking since leaving the library.
“I know…it’s awesome. I now actually go to the library,” one student said.
“I hate the library–so boring. But now I can get a book and when I get bored, I can go recharge with some coffee,” another quipped.
“Dude. Did you see the barista? She’s hot. I go all the time just to look at her,” said yet another student.
So my anger was quickly doused by the very students who love this new library. Considering libraries are almost becoming obsolete and in fact, next week I give a lecture on how to research and point out that most students can do all their research from their computers and will probably never even need to step into the library, I realized that I should be thankful that libraries are staying hip (more hip than me, I guess) and actually attracting students by the hoards. So what if it’s just to sip a latte and read People magazine while simultaneously scrolling through facebook status updates on their iPhones…at least they’re doing all this near books, right?
But I have to wonder: what did they do with the books?