There are so many reasons to head to the library ASAP, ranging from the books to the atmosphere and well beyond. Libraries are some of my favorite places. When I was a kid, there was nothing more spectacular than the promise of a weekday trip to our nearest library, and I would go into throes of ecstasy at the thought of spending hours in the stacks on a Saturday. The older you get, sadly, the more likely you are to forget about this simple passion. Do you remember how going to the library felt a little like taking ten different fantastical trips all at once? If you want to relive that joy, maybe some of my reasons to head to the library will give you the gentle push you need.
1. All Those Beautiful Books
One of my favorite reasons to head to the library comes down to the books, of course. They stretch for miles, and no matter what you're looking for, you can be reasonably sure that your library either has it or can get it on loan from another place. Just knowing there are that many books together under one roof sort of soothes the soul. What's even better is the knowledge that untold readers have shared them with you throughout the decades.
2. The Promise of Adventure
Along with the bevy of books, there's all that adventure. Every book offers its own journey, every stack its own worldwide tour. You can travel to distant lands, far off planets, or unbelievable places in someone else's imagination. When you step through the doors, you instinctively know that you won't be quite the same when you leave. You'll undergo some sort of change in those hallowed halls, whether you visit Neverland or a particularly nightmarish street in Derry, Maine.
3. That Special, Spicy Smell
I love the smell of books, of all books. However, while new books are crisp and pleasing and wonderful, those older hardbacks in the library are redolent of something else entirely. I love nothing more than cracking open an old, dusty book and breathing in deep. There are secrets in there. They're spicy, musty, musky, and unique. You can't bottle that fragrance, but man, I wish someone would try.
4. Seeking out Secrets in the Stacks
Every stack has its own secrets, did you know that? Sometimes it's the smell, sometimes it's a long-forgotten author or a brand new writer, and sometimes it's rediscovering a favorite book you haven't thought about in years. Venture down the non-fiction section and you might discover a dirty secret about a long ago leading man. Head down toward fiction and you might discover a new favorite, whether it's a contemporary author or someone who last published a book in 1952. Sneak into the charming children's section, and maybe you'll meet Beezus and Ramona Quimby, or go on an adventure with Super Fudge.
5. Enjoying a Little Solitude
Shhh. The pervasively quiet atmosphere is so delicious. You're always compelled to talk in whispers when you speak at all, and while some miscreants fail to follow this rule, you know that eventually the librarians will use their special brand of magic to bring silence back to the reading room. When you need some time to yourself, even if it's not 100 percent quiet, the library is one of the best spots.
6. The Wonderful World of Workshops
As wonderful as reading is all on its own, libraries offer so many workshops, clubs, and similar opportunities. You might find a book club to join, or a reading group for your kids. That's not all, though. There are knitting circles, cooking classes, places to work on your taxes, the opportunity to learn new software programs, and so many other things.
7. Learning More than You Intended
Go to the library, and you'll walk out knowing more than you did when you got there. You may go intending to research the Industrial Revolution and come out knowing about everything leading up to it, everything that followed after, and an idea of what life might have been like without it. You may look up a word in the dictionary that leads to an interest in learning the French language. You could go in looking for Faulkner and end up falling in love with Fitzgerald.
I have two of the most charming libraries in the world near my house – the stacks in Salem and Peabody, MA – and since moving here I've made it my mission to rekindle my love affair with the library. When was the last time you visited? Do you still make weekly trips or do you have an affair to rekindle, too?