Library vs Bookstore
Why is it such a different feeling for me to go to the library rather than the bookstore? There is a sense of peace that floods over me at a bookstore. Used bookstores especially evoke this feeling. A couple years ago I was having a rough time in my life and I took myself on a field trip to a used bookstore downtown Chicago – Myopic. I went upstairs and squeezed through several bookcases and came into an open area where there was a long table and chairs. There were no other people around and I suddenly took a large inhale and exhaled and felt like new life had been restored to me. My body was relaxed and my mind stopped racing. The trip also included a trip to Intelligentsia coffee which was heaven in a cup accompanied with a croissant.
The bookstore I associate with leisure, but the library I associate with research, books to pick up, and “things I must do”. There are deadlines that come with the library and responsibility. The book isn’t mine which is a completely different feeling. There is pressure to get the book done before it is due. Usually not a problem unless all the holds come in at the same time! There is a feeling of business rather than pleasure in the library. I feel rushed there. This feeling seems to be new to me however. I remember the library at my middle school as being a place of comfort for me. I used to go in at lunch everyday and find a corner and read. The librarian would have to remind me to go to class because I would get lost in the book and not hear the bells.
When I move to a new town one of the first items on the to do list to get my library card. It is the most important thing after the address change. Some libraries are more lax than others. One town refused to give me the card until my drivers license changed to the new address.
The librarians know who I am in the branch I visit the most often. I come in at least once a week for holds due to the new Google library extension making it so easy to request. I even asked for a book to be ordered for the first time ever. I was so excited to get the email that they have indeed ordered it. I used the library to tutor for years as well. My good friend is even working there now as the children’s librarian.
At the bookstore the books are mine. I have them forever. I am comforted by the stacks and volumes around me. I carry my own books around with me. I write in my books. I have discovered that I need copies of my own of non-fiction so I can annotate my own books.
I love both places but with books at the center I am conflicted with the mixed feelings about the places.