Libraries Are Good For The Nomad’s Soul
By Berls @ Fantasy is More Fun
I have moved a lot. In my life I’ve moved a total of 13 times and 8 of those moves were in the past 4 years. It’s not exactly on purpose, but I’ve become a bit of a nomad over the years. I literally can (and have) move with less than a week’s notice.
What does this have to do with loving the library, you ask?
Have you ever moved? Do you remember what it was like to pack up boxes and boxes of books? And do you remember how much those boxes of books weighed? The point I’m making is, moving books SUCKS! Now I do have a decent collection of books, I won’t pretend I can’t fill a bookcase. I can, believe me! But if I owned a physical copy of all the books I’ve read over the past several years, moving like I have would have been pretty impossible. Sometimes (like now) I can’t even unpack my books because I don’t know how long I’ll be living in a place. So I may own a book, but that doesn’t mean I can get to it.
This is where the lovely library comes in. I’ve been lucky to live in two metroplexes that have really good library systems over the past several moves. And do you know one of the first things I do when I move to a new place? Yep, that’s right! I find the closest library and get a card. All you need is proof of address (so your lease agreement or a utility bill) and a picture ID at most libraries, so you don’t have to wait for you Driver’s License to be updated. Believe me, I know! Every library card I currently hold I got within the first week of moving into my new address, some of them I got the very day I moved.
A Nomad’s Library Tour
I currently have (and use) 6 library cards! Yes, I’m serious. Some of them will be expiring soon and since I no longer live in their region I won’t be able to renew them, but until then I have access to their digital (downloadable) titles! *evil grin*
So this was one of the libraries I got a card to on the second day I lived in my new apartment. You see why? Yeah, I lived directly above the library! Now this particular branch has actually moved now and was always the smallest one, but it was super convenient because I could get any book from the St. Louis Public Library System brought to this library for me to pick up. So I’d get the notice the book(s) were there and I would just run downstairs really quick to get them.
The St. Louis Public Library System has 17 different branches! I didn’t actually visit more than two of the branches, but I had access to books in all 17 branches. You know what that means? 17 branches worth of books! I looked it up – they have 4.6 million items in their collection!! And you thought you had a lot of books!
What I loved about this library system is that they have a really good collection of Urban Fantasy and they got popular new releases very quickly. They also had a fantastic comic selection – not something I’m in to, but I was blown away by how many they had.
What I STILL love about this library is their fantastic electronic holdings. Almost every book I’ve wanted to check out they had as an eBook or audiobook. And they tend to have multiple copies so you don’t have to wait long for your turn to borrow. I’ll be sad when this membership expires in December, since I no longer live in St. Louis and can’t renew it.
My second St. Louis Apartment was actually in University City, giving me access to a whole added library system! Yes, added, because I could still have (and renew) a St. Louis library card too! This library only has one branch, which just so happened to be directly across the street from me (Yes, I like living close to libraries!). Although it only has one branch, it belongs to a consortium of 9 St. Louis County Libraries and gave me access to 700,000 titles. They also have a really fantastic digital collection that I won’t be cut off from until January 🙂
This library is located right on The Loop – which is one of the main streets in St. Louis and, as a result, it participates in a lot of community events. Almost every weekend something was going on here, from author signings to kid events. One of my favorite things was the The Gallery. It’s a small area on the second floor where they have traveling exhibits monthly and it was always things I don’t think I would have been likely to see other places.
My Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) Libraries
When I moved back to Texas in January, my home library became the Carrollton Public Library. The Carrollton library system is just two branches. So in a way, it’s considerably smaller than what I was used to in St. Louis. But the neat thing about DFW is that it’s made up of tons of suburbs! Not only are they really close to each other, but a lot of them are setup where you can have cards to neighboring library systems.
As a result, I haven’t spent much time at Carrollton Public library. I did make a point of getting on their mailing list though and every month the announce a pretty hefty list of new releases, quite a few that I plan to read sometime. They also have a really easy system for requesting new books and have even bought a book that I requested!
So Carrollton has been good to me, but I’ve found most the books I need from the Farmers Branch Public Library. This library is pretty small, just 1 branch and not a huge number of holdings. And yet they always seem to have the books that I want! I’ve mainly found books from them that are a couple years old, but still really popular. In fact, they were the library where I was able to get my hands on an audiobook of If I Stay first. All my other libraries had super long waiting lists – so that’s one big advantage of a small library. Fewer patrons, shorter waits 🙂
Once a month I trek out the Plano Public Library. It was a bit far for me when I lived in Carrollton and it’s even further now, but they have a really great selection of audiobooks. All the libraries I check out from have a decent selection, but what I like about Plano is that a lot of their audiobooks are Playaways. They actually are the library that first introduced me to Playaways and now I love them!
I also have had the most fun with these librarians! We got to know each other when I couldn’t figure out how to use their self-checkout machine. Most libraries have something similar, but there’s is picky. They taught me, we laughed about books in the process, and now they know me. They always wave me over when I come in for my monthly visit. I request my books in advance so they’ve seen what I’m picking up and will gush over the authors with me. It’s so much fun to be able to talk to book lovers. My 30 minute trip to the library always ends up taking longer because I’m chatting!
Now that I’ve moved to Dallas, I’ve also picked up a Dallas Public Library Card. This is like the creme de la creme of DFW library cards because, kind of like back in St. Louis, this library system is huge. Except is even HUGER (yes, that is technically a word!). Dallas Public Library has 29 branches! Holy Cow I’ve died and gone to Heaven! I couldn’t find a listing anywhere of how many titles they have, but I feel like they have everything. But with a big system comes bigger waiting lists, so when I want high demand titles, I still use the smaller systems.
One of the branches is just a five minute drive from where I live currently, which is super convenient and I could easily get there by bus if I wanted to skip driving (which sometimes I do). The fist time I used Dallas Public Library, though, I had specific book I wanted that was at a different branch. I drove past it three times, and even told my brother I couldn’t find it anywhere. What’s funny about this story is that the library sign was huge. See it in that picture?!? Not my finest moment.
Anyway… What’s really cool about this library system is all the extras, that I haven’t had a chance to dig into yet (only been living here since the start of July). They have a summer reading program for kids, they have GED & other classes for adults, arts & crafts programs, and all kinds of events going on. I’m looking forward to really discovering this library system still, but I’m already in love.