Musings From A Bookmammal


Musing Monday–Habits Of A Library Lover

Click here to play along!

click here to play along!

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme hosted by A Daily Rhythm that asks you to muse about one of several “bookish” questions… or you can just ramble on about anything you like that pertains to books! You can join in by clicking the graphic above. Go ahead–it’s fun!

Here’s my musing for this week about using my local library:

25c41eed283bd7af84d8229e3ac38e03I love to read, but I’m not independently wealthy—so I depend on borrowing library books pretty regularly to keep up with everything I want to read. Don’t get me wrong—I buy A LOT of books—but there’s just no way that I’d be able to get my hands on all the new releases out there without the help of my local library. I check out eBooks and audiobooks fairly regularly and once in awhile I’ll borrow a DVD—but the main draw for me is the books!

I’m very lucky to live in a town with a great library system. My local branch isn’t too close to where I live—it’s kind of out of the way to make a special trip—but I tend to stop by on my way home from work most Thursday or Friday nights. I find it helps me keep track of when books are due if I try to check things out on the same day of the week—believe me, this is a lifesaver when you’ve got stacks of library books all over the house! My library really doesn’t have a firm limit on the number of books that you can have checked out at one times (I’ve asked!) and I think there’ve been times when I’ve had at least a dozen library books in hand. The loan period is three weeks and you can renew if no one else is on the hold list. Right now I’ve got nine books checked out:

Picture1(So far I’ve finished Small Mercies, which was a good family saga taking place on Staten Island, and I just started Early Warning, which is the second book in what will be a trilogy.Have you read any of these?)

Once in awhile I’ll stop at the library on a Saturday morning and I tend to get there right when the family story time session is ending. I absolutely LOVE seeing the little kids pour out of the events room clutching whatever craft they’ve made that day and racing towards the kids’ section!

One thing that’s changed about my library habits over the past few years is that I rarely go into the library to just browse anymore. I used to plan on staying a good hour whenever I’d go—I’d usually have a list of specific books I wanted to find, and then I’d wander the shelves and pick out books that just looked interesting. Nowadays I do it all online—I’ll put the books I want on hold, or get on the waiting list for titles that aren’t available, and then I’ll stop by for only as long as it takes to pick them up. And with automated self-check out machines, I rarely interact with any of the librarians. It’s definitely efficient, but sometimes I do miss just wandering the stacks and finding unexpected new books or old favorites.

2312973323371462Something I love about my library is their willingness to order just about any book that they don’t currently carry—not just get it through interlibrary loan, but actually order it and add it to their collection. The requestor is then automatically added as #1 on the hold list for the title when it comes in. Plus, if you’re a total book geek like me, you get the thrill of knowing that other people will now have the chance to borrow a book that you recommended! Last week I made these two purchase requests and both were approved, so I’m anxiously waiting for the emails that will let me know that they’ve arrived!

I’ve also gotten into the habit of putting myself on a ton of waiting lists. When I hear that a new book is coming out, I automatically check to see it my library has it on order–if they do, I get on that list! My waiting list is usually made up of dozens of titles, but right now there are only ten books on it. The one that I’m most excited about is Harper Lee’s Go Set A Watchman which will be released on July 14–I’m #38 on the list of nearly 200 (so far!).

How about you? What’s the library situation like in your area? Do you use your library regularly? Why or why not? Please share!


L is for LIBRARY NOSTALGIA–The April A-Z Challenge/Day 12

LWelcome to Day #12 of the April A to Z Challenge, where participants are challenged to create a post every day (except Sundays) corresponding to the appropriate letter of the alphabet. If you’d like to learn more, hit the badge on my sidebar.

I’ll be posting about bookish topics each day of the challenge. Here’s today’s post about some differences between the libraries of yesterday and today:



library nostalgia collageI’m a big fan of libraries–I think they’re one of the greatest inventions ever! My parents started me on the library habit when I was really young—my family didn’t have much money to purchase books when I was a kid, but we went to the library just about every week. Today I’m lucky to have a large public library system in my area, and I usually have at least 5 books checked out at a time—often more.

Libraries are so automated today—online searching and automated checkout procedures make it possible to take full advantage of many library services without ever interacting with another human. But I’m old enough to remember the days when that wasn’t the case—and sometimes I miss those times.

Who here remembers the “old school” wooden, boxy card catalogs that were yesterday’s version of Google? There were usually three sets of these–one to use when searching by title, one for authors, and one for searching by subject, and they took up a good amount of space.

You’d have to find the individual drawer for the part of the alphabet you needed–hopefully no one else was using the drawer that you wanted! Then you could remove the drawer, take it to a nearby table, and flip through the cards until you found what you needed. Next, you’d write down the call letters/numbers and then hunt for the book in the stacks! (Don’t forget to return the card catalog drawer first!) I can still remember filling up sheets of notebook paper with the call numbers of books I’d need for school research papers. I’ve bought a couple of these old individual drawers online recently and I use them for storage on my desk and in my bathroom. They bring back fond memories whenever I see them!

Library cards today have bar codes and look like credit cards—but I remember when they were little cardboard cards with your name typed on them (via an actual TYPEWRITER!). Each card also had a little metal plate attached with your library ID number. The card above looks just like my childhood library card, except mine was a pinkish-orange color rather than blue. I think that kids had one color, and adults had another.

Today I get a computer print-out that lists the date that my books are due, but back when an actual librarian checked out all the books, she (and it was always a she!) would stamp the date due on a slip pasted in the back of each book. I always thought it was fun to check that slip and see how many times a book had been borrowed. All of that is a mystery now!

OK–I feel about 1,000 years old right now! Help me out, people! Do you have any memories of libraries of the past?  Or are you someone who has never used an actual card catalog? Please share! 🙂

(You can read more of my thoughts about libraries in this post, and my thoughts about kids and libraries here.)


B is for BUYING vs BORROWING–The A to Z April Challenge/Day 2

BWelcome to Day #2 of the April A to Z Challenge, where participants are challenged to create a post every day (except Sundays) corresponding to the appropriate letter of the alphabet. If you’d like to learn more, hit the badge on my sidebar.

I’ll be posting about bookish topics each day of the challenge. Here’s today’s post about BUYING vs BORROWING BOOKS:



book stackI’m a big fan of libraries, but I like to surround myself with the books that I’ve enjoyed. Books are definitely comfort objects to me, and I have bookcases in every room of my house except for the bathroom. All of them are filled to bursting! In one of my previous career lives I worked at a large chain bookstore and my employee discount allowed me to add so many great titles to my home library that I never would have been able to afford otherwise.

It’s been more than 12 years since I left that job, and these days I’m borrowing more books from the library than I’m purchasing. According to my Goodreads account, of the 28 books that I’ve read so far this year, 24 have been borrowed from the library. I’m lucky to have a great public library in my area that carries the majority of books that I want to read. Loan periods are for three weeks, with the option to renew if no one else is on the hold list for that title. I usually have at least five books checked out from the library at any one time—right now I’ve got eight library books at home.

I  still buy lots of books–it’s just that they’re the ones that sit on my shelves while I’m trying to get the library books read before they need to be returned! When I do purchase books, I’ll generally try for a used copy first, but I’m picky about the condition—I don’t want books that are soiled, torn, or look like they’ve been run over by a truck. I’ve found over the years that I want to own books that I’ve particularly enjoyed—it’s not uncommon for me to borrow a library book and then later purchase a copy to keep. I’m a big re-reader, and I just never know when I’ll want to revisit a book that I’ve really liked!

I buy lots of used books from abebooks, which is a sort of online clearinghouse for thousands of used bookstores all over the US and even some in Europe. This site makes it incredibly easy to compare the prices and conditions of just about any title—even out of print books. I’ll often wait until a book I want to own comes out in paperback—then I’ll go online and can usually find a nice used hardcover copy for much less than the price of a new paperback. Granted, you take a risk when you buy used books online, but I’ve only been disappointed a couple of times over the ten years or so I’ve been an abebooks customer.

If I can’t find a used copy of a book I want to own, then I go with Amazon or the local B & N. I really only buy new if I just CAN’T WAIT for a book to come out in paperback, or if it’s a book by one of my favorite authors. I’ll also buy new books if I feel like splurging a bit–there’s not much that’s more fun than going to the bookstore, wandering around to see what catches your eye, and then leaving with a pleasingly heavy bag of books!

How about you? Do you usually buy or borrow the books you read? Where do you do your buying/borrowing? Please share!


Musing Mondays–Library Memories

Click here to play along!

Click here to play along!

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme that asks you to muse about one of several “bookish” questions… or, you can just ramble on about anything you like that pertains to books! You can join in by clicking the graphic above. Go ahead–it’s fun!
Here’s my Musing Mondays ramble for this week:

ChomskyI was lucky to grow up in a town with a good library. My parents started taking me there regularly when I was 3 or 4, and that started a habit that I’ve had ever since. Back then the town library was a stone building between a church and the YMCA. I thought it was huge back then, but it was really probably the size of an average two-story house. Adult books upstairs, kids books downstairs. I still remember being really intrigued by those long poles that held the newspapers–do libraries even still have those?

When I got older—starting in about the 5th grade–I can vividly remember riding my bike downtown to the library on weekends with one of my good friends who was also a reader. This was back in the days when our parents didn’t even blink at the thought of two pre-teen girls (without helmets!) riding their bikes alone across busy streets to the middle of town—they just said they’d see us when we got back.

We’d go to the library first and check out as many books as we could fit into our bike baskets. Then we’d stop by this great little candy store where you could buy candy by the piece. I think I usually bought chocolate licorice and maybe some other little chocolate candies of some sort. We’d then ride our bikes back to my house and either sit out in the backyard or in my bedroom and eat the candy and read our books. We wouldn’t talk too much—we’d just read. When it was time for her to go home we’d talk about what we’d read and maybe make plans to trade books in a few days. We did this more times than I can count.

That library eventually expanded, and then finally moved to a brand new building—probably at least 25 years ago. There are also two other separate branches that have since opened. The main branch is large and gorgeous and it’s truly a big part of the community. It has huge windows that look out over the river and big comfy chairs that just beg you to sit in them and get lost in a book. The kids section is colorful and the librarians are kind. I go there sometimes when I’m visiting my parents. I’m not sure if any kids ride their bikes there anymore, and it’s not near a candy store—but I still remember how it felt to come home with books, candy, and a friend and have the whole afternoon stretched out in front of us—with nothing to do but read.

How about you? Do you have any childhood library memories? Please share!


Musing Mondays–Little Free Libraries: “Take A Book, Return A Book!”

Click here to play along!

Click here to play along!

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme that asks you to muse about one of several “bookish” questions… or, you can just ramble on about anything you like that pertains to books! You can join in by clicking the graphic above. Go ahead–it’s fun!
Here’s my Musing Mondays ramble for this week:


I first became aware of the Little Free Library project about a year ago when I came across an article about it online. My interest was sparked immediately, and I’ve been so pleased to see that this movement is continuing to grow!

From the official Little Free Library website:

Little Free Library is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization whose mission is to promote a sense of community, reading for children, literacy for adults and libraries around the world . . . In its most basic form, a Little Free Library is a box full of books where anyone may stop by and pick up a book (or two) and bring back another book to share . . . Little Free Libraries themselves are hand-crafted structures that contain constantly changing collections of books donated and shared by people of all ages and backgrounds. Most Little Free Libraries are placed in front yards, parks, gardens and easily accessible locations . . . Some Libraries are located in coffee shops, in or near restaurants and community centers. . . It’s a ‘take a book, return a book’ gathering place where neighbors share their favorite literature and stories . . .”

The project was started in Wisconsin in 2009 with one Little Free Library and has grown to include over 4,000 officially registered Little Free Libraries world-wide! The website includes a map where you can search for Little Free Libraries in your area–most are in the US, but they can be found in other countries as well. You can find a gallery of photos of Little Free Libraries here. Some are very basic–and some are truly works of art!

LFL 1LFL 2I’ve never discovered any Little Free Libraries “in the wild”–although a few of my friends have–and, according to the site map, there aren’t any near my home. However, the map did show that there was one only about 10 minutes from my office. So last week I decided to investigate on my lunch break . . . and I found it! It’s located in the courtyard of a church, and inside are several dozen books for children and adults–a few books of Bible stories for kids, as well as a lot of books by well-known authors such as Laura Ingalls Wilder and John Grisham. The Little Free Library itself looked well cared for–and although no one was near it when I visited, I’m hoping that it’s used often!

As someone who is passionate about literacy and making sure that books are available to all, I simply LOVE the Little Free Library concept, and I’m planning to take some more “field trips” to locate others.

What about you? Take a look at the map–are there any Little Free Libraries in your area? Have you ever come across one? Do you think this idea could work where you live or work? I’d love to know your thoughts–please share!

(Disclaimer–I have no affiliation with the Little Free Library organization.)