While having lunch with a friend the other day, he told me of a nightmare he had recently. He dreamed he went into the local library and there were no books. Not one. We both agreed such a future might not be too far off. I know we sounded like old people, but there are some things I just wish would stay the same.
I would have been dumber without libraries. As a little girl, my mother would take me to the Scaumburg Public Library near our house. On a snowy day, there was nothing better than to spend time browsing in the cozy library and leaving with a stack of books. I liked to open the books, flip through the pages, look at pictures, feel the book in my hands. On bleak winter days, I was transported from my suburban neighborhood, where everything looked identical, to a diverse world of people of different colors and backgrounds and lives. I learned the world was bigger than I ever imagined.
Later, wherever I lived, small town or big city, I always found the local library, got a card, (for free!!) and checked out books. Libraries have keep loneliness at bay, educated and entertained me. With books to keep me company, I always felt as if I had friends. Moving to a new place is scary, but finding the library always made me feel more at home.
A few weeks ago, my writer's group had our annual book exchange and many of my fellow writers said they didn't even own books anymore to trade. I didn't realize how old fashioned I'd become. So many of the writers I know have turned to technology for their reading. Darn them!
After my friend told me about his library nightmare, I started to think about a world minus the printed page, where you have to look at a screen to read. I get so tired of looking at a screen. Don't we do it enough each day? Do we need to look at a screen even more? There's nothing better than to cuddle up in bed with a book. Well, maybe there is, but that's for another day.
Books were like works of art. My sister gave me this book many years ago. It's pages have yellowed, and the story is old-fashioned, but it's way more interesting to hold and read than a black and white screen. It even has a bookish smell to it, if that makes sense.
For my birthday this year two of my friends gave me actual hard back books. In the past, I would recycle my books, donate or trade them, but I've decided now to keep books. Who knows how long books will even be published anymore in a print version? Knowing they soon might be extinct, makes them all that more precious.
Here's J.K. Rowling signing one of her books. Yes I'm jealous. Writers spend a lot of time alone, and I always dreamed of the day when I would get to meet my readers, sign books I've written, but those days will end once books stop being published. Bummer. That's what I get for procrastinating. Tell me-- how can author sign a screen?
Anyway, times will change whether I like it or not. In the meantime, I hope libraries will continue to lend actual books. It would be a nightmare if libraries did become just places where people sit and stare at telephones. As if we don't do that enough, either.