On losing the wonderment of libraries

It finally dawned on me the other day as I was in my local library to find a specific book, that over the years, my relationship with libraries has changed. Where once I would walk the stacks and look for a title that intrigued me, now I’m in the ‘bag it and tag it’ mode. How long has it been since I roamed the stacks?

I’ve always loved libraries, the quiet, the potential to find something great. The library I grew up with was in an old house, its large rooms converted to different sections. The floors were wooden, polished. They creaked. The checkout desk dominated the main room, the one you entered first. We lived close enough, that by the time I was in junior high, I could walk there by myself. I’d roam the stacks and pick four or five potential books, check them out, scour them at home. I had yet to realize that you didn’t have to read all the way through. I don’t remember quitting books, so I was either hide-bound to finish no matter what, or I was a really good picker!

I have since adapted and have even turned to the last two chapters to find that by doing so I made the right decision and avoided two hundred pages of nothing happening. I had thus saved myself from utter boredom and was free to try another.
Now, I know what I want before I go. I’ve looked at the library’s online catalogue. I know if the book is in or out. The library is carpeted and the rule of ‘quiet, please’ no longer reigns supreme. It’s more efficient, but I can’t help but think something is also lost, that sense of wonderment and adventure I had growing up.

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