A quick plug for (and at!) the public library

by Emily

The library is open, the lights are on, and power strips are on every table so people without power can charge their phones and computers. How can I not praise it? Libraries are one of my favorite public goods. They don’t just do the minimum of preventing or minimizing suffering and disaster (which is, of course, incredibly important), they actually do positive good beyond just offering a large selection of books (also incredibly important, but extremely obvious).

First, if you or your kids like museums, public libraries often have museum passes. A few years ago I worked at the Boston Children’s Museum, which is a fun place but fairly expensive for a family buying individual tickets. Library passes were incredibly popular ways for people to plan trips. Definitely ask at the circulation desk what options your local library might have.

Second, public libraries have all the magazines you could want! Many of them have evening hours! If, say, your power is out, or you’re camping out and it is pouring rain, or you’re in a new place where you don’t know anyone and you’re just bored out of your skull, it’s wonderful to be able to go sit with a magazine or several after dinner. I have done that at this particular library in each of those circumstances, so believe me, it’s true.

Third, they plan activities. I joined a library murder mystery book club on Long Island. It’s a lot of fun.

Fourth, in addition to novels and nonfiction, you can get cookbooks! As a grad student I’ve developed a love of beautiful and interesting cookbooks and a budget that can’t really keep up. Last summer, ordering “Plenty” on ILL kept me entertained for about a month of flipping through and trying things out. (It also introduced me to green couscous and green pancakes, both of which I recommend.)

In conclusion, libraries are fantastic. Use them, enjoy them, and help keep them open!

What’s your favorite perk of the public library?

(This entry was written 11/1/12)