I am writing this to you from the upper floor of my local library. I have a few favorite spots here, and my current view through the giant picture window is of a thunderstorm outside. Libraries have been my safe space since I learned to read at the tender age of four. I’d walk the shelves during my family’s weekly trips, straining to reach titles just out of my reach. I read Great American Classics and books that were too old for me and ones that were too young and devoured animal encyclopedias. I’m not the world’s biggest expert on libraries (those do exist and they have something called a Master’s in Library Sciences), but I am an expert on loving libraries. Here are some signs that you may be a true library lover.
1. You visit more than once per month.
I will not reveal how many times per month that I walk through my local library’s squeaky sliding doors, but actually I will because there is nothing to be ashamed of here. I visit at least once per week, sometimes multiple times. Part of this is because when I write I need to get out of the house and sit down with purpose, and the library is the perfect environment for it. Quiet, good wifi and lots of outlets. But I also just read really fast and when I get in a groove, I don’t like to wait for the next book.
2. You have paid more in library fines than you have in parking fines.
No matter how conscientious you are, if you use a library long enough you will incur some fines. I tend to not be too aware of things like “due dates,” and while I try my best, I’ve probably paid more of my earnings over the course of my life towards library fines than I have to traffic violations. It’s a matter of volume – sometimes I get over-eager and end up with more than I can handle reading in the span of time allotted. Which brings me to my next point . . .
3. You have a limit of how many books you allow yourself to check out at once.
When I was younger, my mother got me my own library card very quickly, because I would end up with more than the maximum allowed and needed to spill them over onto another card. These days, in order to combat my issue with fines, I walk into the library and tell myself “only five, you know the rules.”
4. You know how to sweet-talk librarians.
Sometimes there’s a book you really, really want, but it’s in processing and not on the shelf. If you know the ways of the library, you’re pretty good at convincing your favorite librarian to go poke around in the back to find it for you.
5. You know the best times to visit (and the ones to avoid).
There is possibly nothing worse than going to the library with the intention to spend a few quiet hours reading, only to discover you have stumbled upon the middle of children’s story hour. Nothing harshes a reading mellow like seventy-five excited toddlers. You’re a true library aficionado if you know the schedule, when the aisles will be full, and when it’ll be less crowded.
6. You’re adept at using the library catalog.
Hey, they can be confusing if you’re not used to them. Compounding the issue is the fact that different libraries use different types of catalog systems. If you can navigate these seamlessly, you’re golden.
7. You aren’t settled in a town until you have a library card.
I mean, for me, that’s just a given. That’s also why I have at least six different library cards sitting in my desk drawer.
8. You know how to navigate the Dewey Decimal System.
Now, this one is a bit trickier than most, and it’s totally okay if you don’t feel fully confident in it. But even a working knowledge of good ole Dewey helps when you’re deep in a reading quest. I first learned about how to use it during a written test to become a library page in high school (yes, there was a written test) and while I didn’t get the job, the information on that test has been useful many times since.
9. You use different libraries for different things.
The town I live in now is too small for this activity, but when I lived in larger cities I would visit different libraries for different purposes. The downtown library had a great YA selection, but not too much in the way of scifi or fantasy. For that, I’d hop over to the central branch. This may be the nerdiest thing I have ever admitted to, but at one point I had library cards for three neighboring cities to take advantage of all their catalogs (wait, the actual nerdiest thing I’ve ever done is read the dictionary from ages 8-12. I didn’t have many friends, okay?).
10. You take advantage of library programs.
My library has a government grant that allows you, the patron, to select books to add to their catalog. If you can’t find a book you want in their branch, you can submit a request to the reference desk for it. They’ll find the book on Amazon, and DELIVER IT TO YOUR HOUSE. After you’re done reading it, you turn it in and they add it to their collection for future readers. And have I mentioned this is all free? This is my absolute dream life and I only am living it because I trolled through the library program brochures one dusty afternoon.
There you have it. If, after reading this, you think I am the biggest nerd you’ve ever heard of in the entirety of Nerddom, may I remind you that I have never played Magic! the Gathering and I have no plans to (although one time I did let a boy show me his cards in an attempt to woo his affections. It did not work.). If, after reading this, your immediate reaction is “ME TOO!” to at least half of this list, congratulations, you are a true library lover! Now let’s get off the internet and get back to the books, friend.