The Public Library

I live in a small town. My parish (Louisiana doesn't have counties) is comprised of four small towns looped together in an interestingly shaped polygon. We have exactly one public library in the parish seat. It's old and outdated in a number of ways. It's also usually pretty empty. Each Saturday morning, rain or shine, I get up, get dressed, pack up my computer, and head to the library to sit at table nestled in the "Louisiana" section. This spot has become a haven to me because unlike my home where two small, loud children reside with myself and my large, loud husband, no one talks to me. No one asks me for anything. No one clings to my limbs and pulls. No one suddenly becomes really quiet while they're secretly destroying every nice thing we have.

 In my spot, protected by the wall of Louisiana history books that no one will ever read, I can easily push out a thousand words. I can read through novels and post semi-competent sounding reviews. I can also watch ballet videos on YouTube and transcribe what I see into the dance scenes I stubbornly insert into my books, though I have zero experience with ballet.

 Let me tell you what else I can do - I can check out books. No, I don't mean the dusty ones sitting on the shelf that no one wants. I mean ebooks. There exists this lovely little app called Overdrive. On it, is your local public library's network of ebooks. Thousands of them! Things you actually want to read! For freeeeeee! (Okay, not really for free. You paid for them with your tax dollars, but it feels like it's free.) With a book appetite like mine, I can easily spend hundreds a month buying them the old fashioned way. Review swaps have helped cut the cost. A lot of indie authors will trade you their book for a read-through, an intelligent sounding review, and your soul. They don't explicitly ask for your soul, but that ends up what being requires when you accidentally volunteer to review a book that's dreadful. Luckily, I haven't come across many of those.

 Once on a work trip, I got stuck in an elevator with my colleagues. They panicked a bit, but I had my phone in hand. So I said, "It's okay. I've got a new book on my Overdrive app." This lead to them questioning what Overdrive was and then me going on and on about the greatness of the public library for a few minutes. They eyed me curiously and then said something to the effect of, "Yeah, that's great, Jess. But we need to concentrate on getting out of this elevator." I've had a few other opportunities to sing the library's praises, but they've all gone about the same (sans elevator panic). So now I'm telling you guys - a community of voracious readers and writers just like me. The library is not a dead institution, but it's getting overshadowed by Amazon, coffeehouses, and other modern advancements. Any further decline and I'll have to organize marathons to raise awareness about the benefits of libraries. Ya'll - I am not cut out to organize social functions or do anything remotely related to marathons. So I am going to write about it. I'm going to talk to my friends about it. And I'm going to continue to go there on Saturday mornings.


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