My Happy Place: in praise of the public library

Have I mentioned recently how much I love the public library? I think every few months it’s a good practice to discuss the wonder of this public institution. This is especially timely for me because my local public library is going to be closed for the next two months!

Our library has been under renovation for the past year, and during this time has been located in a temporary space. The renovation is nearly finished, and they will be moving the collection back into it’s original {now newly renovated} location very soon. This involves, as you can imagine, the transport of thousands of books and lots of work, so I can understand the two month closure. But I will admit—I was pretty devastated to find out the length of the closure.

You see, I am what you might call a regular at the public library—I usually visit about once a week {sometimes two} in order to research any random topic I can think of, and read my favorite magazines.

The public library is such a place of possibility—so many books, so much knowledge, so many ideas . . . and it’s all free for the taking! When I walk in, I feel instantly calm and swept away by all of the potential. Sometimes, I like to just sit there and breathe in the book-filled air. So, it’s not even just about the actual books—it’s about the space–all of those books collected in a public place, for public use. To take it to an extreme, I would say that the public library is kind of like my church {and I think I have said this before}.

So, when I read in the newspaper that the library would be closed for October and November, my heart withered. No browsing the aisles looking for just the right book, no jetting over there in the evening to research some new interest! What would I do!!??

There is the internet and bookstores of course, and the university library—but they’re just not the same—the internet is too . . . wide and electronic and non-bookish, and bookstores don’t let you take the books home for free on a whim, and the university library is much harder to browse—it’s set up more for academic research, and really, it just doesn’t give me the warm homey feeling that I get from the public library.

The one consolation, one I probably wouldn’t have even thought of, came to me in a short plea at the end of the closure announcement in the newspaper—the county librarian highly suggests that all of us patrons take out as many books as we’d like to help and lighten their load—anything that’s checked out doesn’t have to be transported—and we can keep the books for the entire two months!

Of course, I immediately decided I would take them up on this offer! If I can’t actually go to the public library, why not bring a little piece of it home with me?

So, I have made a plan to check out a whole pile of books between now and the closure start date at the beginning of October. I went to retrieve my first haul today. I had a list of topics and books ranging in subject from Psychology to home food preservation (canning). When I entered the library, I made a quick stop at circulation to find out just how many books I could check out at once. I was expecting somewhere between 10 and 20, but boy was I wrong—you can have 50 books checked out at once! 50 books! 5-0! Wow! I don’t think I will reach that number (or even close), but, the possibilities! I wanted to give the library a big hug at that moment!

Within the first 15 minutes, I had collected a stack of books already too large to carry in my backpack (I was on my bike), so I sat down to weed a few out and ended up spending an hour reading one of them. I settled on 7 books this time around. Added to the 4 I already had checked out, that makes 11, probably not a record for me yet, but I’ve still got a couple weeks and a few more trips to make!

Here are the ones I took home today {in no particular order}, in case one might strike your fancy:

Pickled, Potted, and Canned: How the Art and Science of Food Preserving Changed the World by Sue Shephard

Transpersonal Psychologies: Perspectives on the Mind from Seven Great Spiritual Traditions Edited by Charles T. Tart

The Bagel: The Surprising History of a Modest Bread by Maria Balinska

Robbing the Bees: A Biography of Honey, the Sweet Liquid Gold that Seduced the World by Holley Bishop

Gestalt Therapy Verbatim by Frederick S. Perls

Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods by Sandor Ellix Katz

Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen

Of course, I cannot recommend any of these books for sure because I haven’t read them yet {except for Wild Fermentation—it’s an awesome, easy-to-follow recipe book for anyone with an interest in live-culture foods (like yogurt, hard cider, cheese, etc, etc.). I highly recommend it!}

This list of books reminds me of that question people ask sometimes {what book is on your nightstand?} to find out what you value and who you are. And this list is pretty accurate—I love food, and have a burgeoning interest in psychology. Throw in some poetry, some books about living your best life, and maybe a couple graphic design or artsy books, and then you will have a rounder picture of me. I also, obviously, just love books {and words, and ideas}, and in general want to hoard them. So there’s another piece of who I am. There’s my story in books.

What books are on your nightstand?

{P.S.: if you’re not an avid library patron like me, I highly recommend taking a trip to your local branch soon—you won’t be sorry—breathe in the books and learn something new! Praise this wonderful institution that has made knowledge accessible to all!}

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9 Responses to “My Happy Place: in praise of the public library”


  1. 1 Leah September 12, 2010 at 8:02 pm

    I am currently reading “All Creatures Great and Small” by James Herriot, and it is all about his adventures as a farm veterinarian in rural England during the 1930s and 40s. I love it. It’s endearing, and sometimes absolutely hilarious!

    I share your feelings about public libraries; in fact, I just started volunteering at mine, and I love it! Enjoy that big stack of books – they all sound good to me. :)

  2. 2 Janet Riehl September 13, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    Dear Nicole,

    Yes, Yes, Yes! to your praise of public libraries. Love the photo of your library haul, too. I live a few blocks from one of St. Louis’ best public library: Schlafly. I also bring home stacks so heavy from the University City library–so heavy I can hardly carry them.

    What I like best about libraries is the no risk factor. If I’m not taken with a book I check out, I can simply go onto the next book and take that one back later.

    Cheers to you for your library cheer leading.

    Janet Riehl

  3. 3 Janet Riehl September 13, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    P.S. Charles Tart is a friend and sangha-mate. It was a long time before I found out he was tops in his field.

    The Moosewood Cookbook was all I used in Late 1970s & early 1980s.

    Happy reading.

    Janet

  4. 4 deb September 13, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    What a great post! Our public library is wonderful too. We have five libraries in our area and you can take and return to any of them. It also means we have access to a huge range of books. And I love the idea of you being able to take out 50 books during the renovations – what fun!

  5. 5 Geoff M. Pope September 14, 2010 at 1:21 am

    A 50-book checkout limit? That’s deliciously generous — and a grand burden-lifting strategy! You may even have to buy another bookcase for the fall.

    The book I checked out yesterday is *Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10*. And the one before that: *The Wealthy Freelancer*.

    I actually like the plastic that many hardback library books are tightly wrapped in.

  6. 6 Nicole Docimo September 15, 2010 at 9:22 am

    Oh, I love all this library love. It makes my heart smile. Thank you all for dropping by!

  7. 7 antiphonsgarden September 17, 2010 at 7:39 am

    Closing a library is such an antisocial shame full act, specially as I consider them as our common reading/living rooms.
    I used to consider being overcrowded with books I could not resist bringing home delighted as my special form of “body building” exercise, including balancing their weight on my bicycle.
    I discovered there “friends for ever”in books who supported me in sad times and improved my creative reflection in all times.
    Sometimes their made a sale of those books they thought out of date.What a pleasure to find the book about Japanese gardens and the art of tea I had over the years “visited regularly”.

  8. 8 Googlover/keishua September 17, 2010 at 8:07 am

    Love this post. As a library nerd, this makes me so happy. I am in way too, many libraries these days but it never gets old.

  9. 9 Amy November 3, 2010 at 9:57 pm

    Nicole, did you know that a Davis resident can get a card for the Woodland/Sacramento library system? Nice any time, but particularly great now while our library is in this transition!


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Hello there! My name is Nicole K. Docimo, and I am an artist and writer from the U.S.A. but currently residing in Zurich, Switzerand. Thank you for visiting my blog!

Some Thoughts

"Be thirsty for the ultimate water,
and then be ready for what will
come pouring from the spring."
~Rumi

{from "Joy at Sudden Disappointment"
translated by C. Barks.}

~This Work ~

Unless otherwise noted, all images and writings on this blog were created by me, Nicole K. Docimo aka Blue Bicicletta. If you would like to share anything you see here for inspirational purposes online, I just ask that you kindly let folks know where you found it. If you are wanting to share/reproduce any of my work in any other way, or have any questions about how you will be sharing the work in relation to copyright, please contact me directly at nkdocimo {at} gmail {dot} com. Thanks!

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