Editorial: Use public libraries
ALLY WEAVER News Editor
If you’re a penny-pinching college student or a financially conscious community reader, do me a favor and picture this scenario you’ve lived a thousand times: you’re at home, bored out of your brains and trying to find something to do that doesn’t spend money. You’ve already walked around the park, eaten at every restaurant in town and are getting close to the ‘running naked through the street just to feel something’ leve of boredom. You start to think if only there was a public and free space where I could stimulate my mind with any number of free services!
Obviously, the place I am leading you to is a public library. The unsung heroes of our society today, these wonderful gems exist in almost every town in the world in some form or another: mobile, fixed, online and specialized. Getting a card takes five minutes, giving you access to computers, printers, digital databases, wifi and more books than you could ever hope to read. Even if reading isn’t your cup of tea, the library still has services for you! For example, the Hesston Public Library offers fishing poles, cake pans and puzzles for check-out. As a baker and lover of novelty food, buying a cake pan in a shape you’ll only need once can quickly add up and clutter a kitchen. I feel much better about checking one out, and it also gives me the opportunity to think about the joy from all the baked goods to come out of it, spreading among strangers. Local libraries are hubs for local history, and wonderful places to reflect on what life used to be like in your area. Often, librarians are some of the most informed people in your area, and experts at local history and researching other topics alike. They have specialist knowledge, and the resources and expertise to sift through information for relevant details: a skill especially relevant when information online is untrustworthy at times.
In-person public libraries also offer, in our late-stage capitalist America, the unique opportunity to exist without the expectation of spending money. You can take a thermos of coffee or tea, park your butt in any number of comfortable chairs, and not be bothered until closing time, without worrying about buying something every few hours to earn your spot at a table. Furthermore, having a study space away from a dorm is an invaluable resource, especially on days when classes are all online. Moving from a ‘relaxing space’ to a ‘productive space’ automatically switches me into work mode, I have noticed, and keeps me engaged without checking social media or wanting to nap in a bed that is two feet away.
Additionally, anybody who says libraries are a breed of the past are painfully mistaken. Libraries everywhere have adapted to the digital age, and have done it with style. Many libraries have online books for check out, as well as audiobooks and online magazines, compatible with ereaders and iPads alike. For voracious readers or frequent travelers, these resources provide lightweight entertainment that can go wherever you do.
As an English major and one prone to checking out more books than she can read in two weeks, I have encountered late fees galore. A bitter pill to swallow, but even if you end up with fees, you can take solace in the knowledge that your 10 or 20 cents helps fund these public spaces and improve them for the community that they serve - YOU!