I am a library addict.
I have upwards of 40 books, mostly children's books, checked out right now and approximately the same number on hold, despite the fact that the number of books you can reserve is limited to 15. A ridiculously small number in my opinion. But that's per card. And so, I reserve books on my card, my husband's card, and my daughter's card. And as soon as I get her one, my other daughter's card.
One day my husband made a sign that said "NYPL [our street] Branch" and hung it over the spot where we keep our tottering stack of library books and left if for me to find without saying a word. (He's much better at keeping secrets than I am and waited patiently until I found it. He also makes a mean vegetable soup.) He's right - we could almost open our own branch! As a kid, I actually wanted to lend out my own books in an official way. I even started making up checkout cards for my books, although I lacked the persistence necessary to follow through. My older daughter recently asked to do the same, with similar results.
My husband asked how often we read each of these library books. Some only once, some many, many times. Which is exactly the point. A single reading is all you need sometimes to know the book is not for you. And the ones we return to over and over - well, those are the ones I invest in when birthdays and holidays come around. For example, we currently have Gyo Fujikawa's A to Z Picture Book, reviewed in the prior post. from the library, but it's definitely made it to my "to buy" list. My older daughter just spent some time poring over it by herself and then asked me to do exactly that.
I live in a 950 square foot apartment and I have to be very judicious about which books I will permanently bring into it. And of course, purchasing books on the same scale at which I borrow them from the library would bankrupt us. The only books I buy anymore are children's books and cookbooks (which they also have at the library - yay!). Regular adult reading NEVER makes the cut.
I have my original New York Public Library (NYPL) library card, which dates back to 3rd grade. That strikes me as oddly late given my own mother's library addiction (we currently have "competing" holds on a book of Julia Child's correspondence with her friend Avis DeVoto, As Always, Julia). My name is signed on the back in the careful cursive which I had just learned. The card is white, with the NYPL logo on it in maroon (current cards are either the reverse or blue). It is held together with tape. The bar code is rubbing off. I hope they never make me get a new one.
Next up: books about books and libraries and reading.