When I was a kid, the library was my best friend. We moved from one Air Force base to another, changing schools, homes, and cultures at the whim of the military powers-that-be. There were constants, however: a commissary, base exchange (glorified general store), dental and hospital facility, cafeteria, and a library.
I loved the library. Children's books were always an afterthought on military bases, so I was drawn to adult literature, poring through classics by Jane Austen, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Sir Walter Scott, Louisa May Alcott, Willa Cather, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Charles Dickens. Consequently, my vocabulary was fairly precocious, though my pronunciation left much to be desired. (If you'd only read "preternatural" but never heard it spoken, you may, too, pronounce it "pre-TER-natur-OWL." Wince.
I walked or rode my bike to the library on Saturdays and spent a few happy hours choosing that week's reading. Then I stayed up late at night, loathe to put down a particularly good story (and they were ALL good), happy to pay the price the next day of sleep deprivation and dry eyes.
Since I could roar through a dozen Cherry Ames and Nancy Drews and two or three thick classics at a time, I always ran out of reading material before the next Saturday. Resigned to the fact that new books wouldn't appear, particularly when we lived on Okinawa, I just re-read the same favorites over and over again.
Today, someone said she hadn't stepped foot in a library in YEARS and wouldn't know where to begin looking for a collection of books by a famous children's author. Astonishing. Now, I do understand that there are many other ways to discover and enjoy great books. But the library is basically FREE. And if you're patient, most popular books will appear on the shelves for your reading pleasure. Plus, the DeKalb County library lets you reserve books online, so you don't even have to look for them. The system pings you when they're in and you pick them up, scan them in the self-checkout station, and move briskly on to your next stop.
There's just one problem with our library system, though. They really don't like knitting books. They add one or two with some disdain. The latest Nicky Epstein finally showed up in the catalog and I pounced. (Too late, though - dozens of other knitters noticed before I did and put in their reserve first.)
I love the library. I think I'll go right now.