The Henrietta Public Library in Henrietta, NY, is my home library. They don’t know this, because I live in a different town so when I log into the system it keeps linking me up to that other library. However, I rarely go to the library in my actual town. For one thing it’s not as convenient, because the Henrietta library is closer to where I work and has better parking. Mainly, though, the Henrietta library is more likely to carry the books I’m looking for (they have a much better collection of science fiction and fantasy, for instance). They also do a terrific job with customer service, which hasn’t always been true in the library closer to home. So when people ask me about my local library, I tell them about Henrietta.
Even beyond which library is my local library, though, there’s the larger issue of picking a library as my home place. I don’t have young children, so I never took part in most of the community events that this library has to offer (and there are a lot of them). I don’t go to their movie nights or take part in their craft events for adults. I go there for the books.
I’m a book person; my husband built me a compact library with roll-out shelves to fit all my paperbacks into a closet. The only rooms in my house that don’t hold books are the fancy dining room and some (not all) of the bathrooms. But it’s not enough! I never have fewer than two or three books checked out at a time, and it’s been as high as a dozen. Libraries feed my book habit.
I love what libraries mean to me. Even more, I love what they mean to others in my community. People who can’t afford to buy books, or have no home to keep them in. People who don’t have Internet access. People who need tax forms or voter registration forms. In the words of T. S. Eliot: “The very existence of libraries affords the best evidence that we may yet have hope for the future of man.”