What Do You Do At The Library? (My Little Confession)

Orem Public Library
My Library! (OPL)
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I think I'm using my library wrong.

At the very least, I'm not using it to its full potential. I had a conversation with my sister a while ago, where she said that she used to love the library when she was a teen. She talked about how she missed the days when she would spend hours there just reading, studying, and looking at books. Sometimes she would spend the entire day there. She's not the first person to tell me about her hours-long library experiences.

Uh...I think the longest I've stayed at the library is 45 minutes--the time I discovered there were not only sign language books, but also dictionaries, videos, CDs, and language kits. That was a lot to sort through. But I usually just walk in, grab the books I want (which I've already looked up at home and made sure are available), spend a minute or two perusing the books on display, and then I check out. If my son is with me, we'll spend a little time picking out books in the children's section. I don't dawdle, and I rarely look at any other books. In fact, I have a hard time checking out books that I haven't already read reviews for.

Weird, right? I love reading so much, but have a hard time simply perusing book shelves. Don't get me wrong--I adore the library. I think it's vital to have a library in your community, and I love that mine has pretty much anything I have ever wanted to check out. And I read some weird books, y'all. You don't even know. But aside from author signings and the occasional performance (which I didn't factor into my time spent at the library), I don't spend much time hanging around. 

I think it has a little to do with the lack of noise. I can't concentrate without noise in the background, so it baffles me to see people studying in libraries. I also get extremely conscious of every squeak of my shoes, every rustle of my clothing, and any and all zipper or Velcro noises I make, anytime I'm in a quiet place. Ever been in the middle of a library when your toddler has a tantrum? Practically everyone present that day now knows that you refused to let your child check out that Sponge Bob book. It's not fun. 

But that's beside the point. All this is to say that I think I just need to take the time to slow down and appreciate everything my library has to offer...which is a lot. My library really does rock. And a lot of the time I'm in too much of a rush, or I'm anxious to get home and read whatever book(s) I just picked up. I need to enjoy the library environment a little more, and maybe even pick up a book that I hadn't already planned on checking out. (Gasp!) 

I also want to teach my son about the wonders of the library, and not that it's just a place to quickly grab all the books you can, before mom is ready to leave. 

And now I'm curious, lovely readers: 
What is it that YOU do at the library?
Are you one to pick up books at random, slowly making your way down each aisle--careless of the time--until you find something that sounds good? Or are you more of a get in, get what you need, and get out, type of person?


  1. Normally I've browsed my library's database and requested books sent from other parts of the state (it's all one big network) so I march right in, straight over to the holds section, pick up my book and get out of there. The only time I ever browse is when I'm meeting someone at the library, and then I usually only pick out books I recognise the titles from Goodreads or other blogs, or I like the title/cover art/blurb/first page.

    This is because I am systematically working through a very long to-read list and I can't afford to pick up random stragglers if I'm to get through everything.

  2. I'm a homeschooling parent, so we ADORE the library! :)

    We go to story hours, attend kids and family events, and participate in programs. My kids have petted snakes and iguanas at the library. They met and spoken with chefs, zoologists, musicians, authors, and dancers. They've met people from other nations and cultures (the steel-drum group from Jamaica comes to mind) and have been exposed to all kinds of new ideas that I would have a hard time explaining to them any other way.

    Tomorrow, we are attending our library's celebration of Talk Like a Pirate Day. The kids are encouraged to wear costumes, and the library is reading children's stories and working in some of the history of pirates.

    I peruse the shelves when I don't have kids with me, and I love it. If I ever go by myself, I've walked out with fifteen or twenty books, most of which I hadn't planned on getting!

    Next spring, my son is old enough for a program they have that teaches children to read with seeing eye dogs. It calms and helps train the dogs (I don't know how- I'm trusting the experts here) and the kids get some AWESOME practice time, plus get to do something good for their community.

    I love the library.

  3. I adore the library. I love looking at all the books and I adore the quiet. I usually pursue the shelves and if I see something new or something that catches me eye, I take a picture of the cover and look it up at home. If it's something I believe I will love, I request it online. So the next time I go back, it's waiting for me already pulled.

    I love the magazines. Where else can I sit and read the article I want without paying for the mag? :)

    Also for kids books looking through the shelves and picking books is awesome. I can't wait to do that with my daughter.

    And pick movies randomly.

    I also love all the programs they have for kids. I can't wait to take Baby Whimsy to all those themed reads, gatherings, and projects.

  4. This is a fantastic question! What I do? I pick up any books I put on hold and explore the children's section with my daughter. My library was smart and put the parenting section facing the kids section so she can sometimes explore (or play with other children) on her own while I browse through activity books. I take her to library programs (the librarian reads stories, sings songs, plays games and does crafts) which are awesome.

    Sometimes I go to special programs like author talks. Sometimes I just go there to get away and sit. I do find it hard to just sit down and read though. There are bookshelves everywhere that need exploring!

    I know what you mean about being watched and toddlers with tantrums. My library has a high school attached to it and during the school year I feel so uncomfortable browsing the shelves. They hold some kind of class there and you could hear a pin drop they are so quiet, and I just keep feeling like they are all watching me! I love your library building. It's so pretty.

  5. Love this post! :) I USED to go to the library and browse and wander the shelves, but that's all changed and I do just what you say, go in to grab something specific or get something on hold. It makes me sad. BUT... I ALSO go there to work, which I love, and to attend awesome programs, like just last night for instance!

  6. My library doesn't have that many books that I like so I spend lots of time on their database at home, looking for books to order. When the library calls me to tell me my order is in then I will go. I usually spend the amount of time it takes to pick the books up. The quiet unnerves me. I do spend some time talking with the librarians, because librarians are awesome and always seem to know the latest book I need to read. But other than that I don't really spend time in my own library. It is very sad but that's what I do.


  7. I do a little of both. Mostly I just grab the books I came for and leave but once in a while I browse. The problem with browsing, though, is I end up coming home with way too many books! ;)

  8. I am a HUGE fan of the library, but I don't actually spend a lot of time there. The most time I've spent at the library is for school, having to use their in library only databases, or gathering up books and seeing which would be the best sources for a project. When it comes to pleasure reading I tend to look at the catalogue from home and put books on hold to be delivered to my local branch. Then I basically just go in, pick up my titles from the hold shelf, and leave again within a few minutes. I think if I had kids I would spend more time there browsing with them, or attending programs with them and stuff, but right now I find that there isn't a lot aimed at people my age.

  9. I take my boys to story time every week. Afterward they play with the toys in the children's area while I chat with friends. It's the noisiest library ever on those days. We try to keep the kids quiet, but it basically sounds like an indoor park. :) I would love to go snuggle in a corner to read if I didn't have kids in tow. I would peruse the teen section and find a book that looks good then delve into a new world. Yeah, that's dream land. If only I had no responsibilities.

  10. I haven't been in a library in a long time. When I did, I would browse the shelves and take my time. I liked that it was quiet. We didn't have the ability to check availability and I rarely knew what I wanted when I went. I just went to see what would catch my eye. So different from my reading habits now. Now I use my elibrary and I know exactly what I'm looking for when I start to browse. I think it is a combination of my changed reading habits and the available technology. Technology just speeds up things in your life in general I guess.

  11. This was an interesting post to read, and I liked reading the comments, too. I'm a librarian, so I was curious to see what people had to say about how they use their library. We aren't a super-quiet library (although we keep it pretty quiet by our public computer area), but I have the same feeling a lot of people do when I'm in a really quiet library (and it seems like, of course, one of my shoes starts squeaking).

    Reading that some people just zip in and out makes me a little sad .... although I'm busy, so I understand that our patrons are busy, too. I think having a few minutes to browse a shelf or two can yield some great books, though -- that you don't see if you just look in the library's catalog. We have patrons who use our Reader's Services staff for that kind of thing, though --- and we can pull books and have them waiting for them. :)

    Thanks for the post -- and for all the comments!

  12. I love spending time at my local library, but I don't do it enough. I live outside of town, so it's still a 15 minute drive TO the library. When I do go, I'm usually like you -- I pick up the books I researched and put on hold, then leave. Sometimes, though, if I need to kill time, I'll spend a few hours reading at the library. Personally, I like the lack of noise. I'm not someone who needs a ton of background noise during the day -- if there's too much, it bugs me.

    I also like to go in and chat with the library assistants, who are just plain awesome! Or my librarian. It's a great place to chat about books!

    But, if I had kids, I'd want to show them the joys of the library -- not only with events like storytime, but just being able to show them that you don't have to BUY everything you need. Of course, I buy too much to begin with ... maybe I need another lesson in how to use my library!

    Great post!

  13. Funny you should bring this up!!

    I feel the same way about the library. I can't really concentrate in a completely QUIET place...it drives me up the wall...because like you said, then every little shoe squeak is magnified times 20 !! ugg...

    That's why I usually only peruse libraries super fast, but spend hours at Barnes & Noble...ha! There's just enough movement there to help me concentrate and not be paranoid about miniscule noises, and the store in general is just freaking awesome. It really is a magical place to me.

    So...maybe I don't quite use the library to it's full potential either!! XD

    p.s. Loved your post!! The part about not checking out the Sponge Bob made me LOL literally!! :))

  14. Great post! (I found your blog via cleanteenfiction, btw :)... I dearly want to spend hours in the library! But I also have a toddler who throws tantrums (although not about Sponge Bob in particular...it could really be anything!), so we dash in, I grab a few books for her and myself, and head back out.

  15. I love the library, for me ,its a safe haven to get away from the issues in my life. I can grab my bag, bring my laptop/i pod and ear buds and either just research and listen to music or read and listen to music. I don't mind the quiet it just depends on my mood. I used to spend hours in borders but when they went out of business, I realized I could do the same at a library. Its hard to get alone time and sometimes I just like to disappear from the world for a few hours and I can do this at the library!


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