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The Whimsy of the Library

I live in a small town with a cute little library. A cute little library that has a long wait list and a small selection. As someone who tends to be more of an instant gratification person when it comes to books, I tend to forego the library and just purchase books I want to read. I’m not a crazy shopper, so it didn’t seem that big of a deal to buy books. But one of my top 18 for 2018 goals is to save money and better understand our household finances, so another 18 for 2018 goal is to use the library more.

I thought switching from ordering books online to using the library would be a tough habit to change, but I’ve found it to be much easier than I anticipated. Of course, I work on a college campus which has a much wider selection and shorter waiting list than the little library in my town. The added convenience of the library being a two minute walk from my office doesn’t hurt, either.

Since the beginning of the year I’ve realized three things specifically about becoming a library user that have a disproportionate effect on my mood - they’re simple, but make me insanely happy.

I spend more time in a building I love, but otherwise don’t visit often.

As I said, I work on a college campus - my alma mater, actually. I love our library and spent many hours there as a student. It’s fun to have a reason to visit more often as an employee. Last year I almost never visited the library other than to walk through on days when I needed a shortcut from the cold. It’s a joy to have a reason to be in the space, especially when the reason is a book to read for pleasure and not a term paper.

 A hidden window in the library. 

A hidden window in the library. 

I feel more in community with other readers.

Of course I don’t know who else checked out the books I’m reading, but I know someone else must have. One of the first books I checked out was “A Wrinkle in Time”, and someone had very lightly underlined the word Ixchel and noted that the planet in the book was also the name of the Mayan goddess of the moon. It was so fun to learn that fact from another reader I’ll likely never meet.

Time feels meaningful.

I’ve long been obsessed with the passage of time and how some seasons of life, some activities, some specific durations seem to fly by while others drag on and on. For some reason I can’t quite articulate, having a library book with a set due date makes the time I spend reading the book feel...different. I’ve often heard people talk about books “finding them” at just the right time. I understood before, but now I’ve moved from understanding to really “getting it” in a way I didn’t before. When books pile on my shelves I can read them at any time, which sometimes end up being no time. When a book is ready for pick up and I can only have it for a set time, that time feels more precious. Perhaps this is because each book feels like a friend who is only visiting for a short while. I want to soak up our minutes together.

Have you ever changed a habit that had totally unexpected benefits? My reasons for trying to use the library more were practical, but the benefits thus far have been much more transcendent. The library has introduced a note of whimsy into my life that I usually miss. What a joy!

The Joy of Routine

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