Suggested by Barbara:
I saw that National Library week is coming up in April, and that led to some questions. How often do you use your public library and how do you use it? Has the coffeehouse/bookstore replaced the library? Did you go to the library as a child? Do you have any particular memories of the library? Do you like sleek, modern, active libraries or the older, darker, quiet, cozy libraries?
I used to haunt the school library, from my elementary days up until college. I guess it comes naturally for a bookworm to love libraries, as it is a great place to feed my hunger for something to read, and it's quiet too. My elementary days were quite fun as my friend's mom was the head librarian, and she let me access the reserved books that I normally needed a teacher's permission for. Once, I remember spending time in the library after school with my two friends doing non-reading things like playing loud music or watching TV on the big screen. The first and only time we were able to do such.
College was lovely. The library was big, and though it may have been woefully under-stocked, it was a wonderful place to go to. Hanging out and just relaxing was done as much as doing schoolwork, not to mention sleeping and a bit of horsing around. The library was the place to be for us.
The only downside of libraries is the "no food allowed" rule… then again, if you were pretty crafty you could sneak in some chocolates or what, but barely anyone did that (not good for the books to have crumbs, you know).
Sad to say, I haven't visited any library since then, although I have been back to visit my college library once. To my knowledge, there is a dearth of public libraries in my country, as most libraries are often regaled as an educational place found within school. There is the National Library of the Philippines of course (which I haven't been to since I was a kid), and the Filipinas Heritage Library, but other that that, I am not aware of any public libraries in the metro.
Various memories of libraries
Once, during my high school years, my mom brought my siblings and I to this small public library in their old neighborhood, a few blocks from where we then lived. It was just a one room affair, with a big wooden table and bookshelves lining the walls. Most of the books were rather old, and were mostly donated from residents of the area. I think it has since closed down, which is truly sad.
Summers in my dad's hometown were also marked with the occasional visit to the public and school libraries. Most of the books there were ones donated by the American Military maybe some thirty or forty years ago (you know, those Fun With Dick and Jane sort of books? Or the ones that had various stories then some reading questions at the end). Those were perhaps one of the key reasons why I read English better than Tagalog, and also the reason why English is easy for me.
Our home is a library of sorts too, thanks to the various encyclopedia sets my mom purchased when my siblings and I were kids, the various how-to and language books (Japanese, French, German and Spanish) she and I have amassed, not to mention the various textbooks, travel guides, novels and literary works we've somehow managed to accumulate over the years. I am lucky to have the means to get these books easily, but not everyone can, which really saddens me.
A library is a library. However, I have a certain affection for the "older, darker, quiet, cozy" libraries, which perhaps stems from my interest in old buildings, and my belief that they hold more character and appeal than the newer ones. As for being replaced, personally, I don't see coffeeshops and bookstores doing that, especially nowadays when people are trying to lessen their spending. Libraries offer an alternative and cheaper entertainment, which I hope would be available here in our country. Somehow, though hanging out in coffeeshops and bookstores have their appeal (and I do like going to those places on occasion), it kind of has that feeling that you must spend something so you could stay there, unlike a library that's basically free (unless there's a membership fee or something).
Score one for libraries for me.