An unfortunate evil has befallen me on this, the first week of NaNoWriMo. That evil is the sudden and tragic death of my laptop’s video card, which is onboard, meaning that I have to either replace my entire motherboard, or just buy a new computer. Fortunately I am the kind of person who stores everything important online, so except for the three or so stories that didn’t make it off that drive and also the shit-ton of freewrites (about which I give zero shits), I can still pretty much access everything. The tragedy, however, has meant that my only access to a computer for the foreseeable future is the 89 minutes of daily free use I get at the library. Thus, this blog post is brought to you by the Seattle Public Library, with which I am having the greatest of love affairs.
Library, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I can read books for FREE?
The first and most obvious reason to love the library is also the most over-looked. With the ease of Amazon and other online shopping websites, it’s easy to forget that you don’t actually have to spend money on things like reading. You can get the books for free. This was a bit of belated revelation to me about six months ago when I got a new job, in which I am both much poorer and much happier. It was the motivation I needed to finally claim my Seattle Public Library membership, and since then I’ve been rolling through books at no cost like nobody’s business. And not just fiction books. It’s been an awesome resource in terms of research for my writing, because all of a sudden I can get ahold of specialized books and peruse them at my leisure without having to commit to the astronomical cost of such things. Entire stories I was dragging my feet on all of a sudden got much easier, because the research materials I needed became free.
It sounds like a stupid revelation, but it was a genuinely new pleasure for me. Books for free. Almost any book I want, for free. All I have to do is wait a bit to get a hold of it, and then make sure I return it in a certain amount of time, which is really just extra motivation to finish reading it in a reasonable amount of time instead of fading away and dropping it. Books, you guys! Books for free!
Somewhere to hang out without spending money.
Another downside to having this new, less financially secure job is that I can no longer afford to go to cafes on a regular basis and just hang out, writing. Yes, I can afford a drip coffee most of the time, but it’s pretty frowned upon to be that frugal when hanging out in a coffee shop for hours on end. But know who doesn’t care how long you hang out without spending anything? The library. The library literally does not give a shit what you do there, so long as you don’t disturb anybody else. Claim a table and camp out for five hours. Bring your own (quiet) snacks. NOBODY WILL EVEN GIVE YOU A DIRTY LOOK. I don’t even get awkwardly solicited for conversation at the library, like often happens in cafes, where some people seem to think everyone else is looking to pick up a date. Nobody looks for a date at the library, and it’s GREAT. Sit your ass down and get some work done. Fucking libraries, yeah.
Not to mention those awkward gaps in time when you’ve just left one place and have an hour before the next place but you’re not hungry and you don’t want coffee and it’s raining so you’d really like to just be indoors somewhere and sit quietly and read for a bit. Is there a library nearby? Because I bet there is.
Free computer access.
The one aspect of libraries I didn’t use until just this moment has suddenly become the most important. I literally could not have updated my blog this week if it weren’t for the library. It would have been the first blog pact deadline I ever missed. But instead of that, here I am writing the post well in advance, because I won’t have the means to be lazy and write it at the last minute. And you know what? I bet this actual keyboard-and-monitor-with-straight-backed-chair situation is a hell of a lot better for me, ergonomically, than sprawling across my bed with my laptop propped against a pillow. You’re so helpful, library! Good on you!
Okay, not always, and I’m spoiled because I live in Seattle, but seriously, look at this building:
Basically, this is me, making lemonade out of lemons, enjoying the existence of public services because hot damn do I love libraries. When was the last time you went to the library? IDK, maybe you should do that sometime.
Yours in silver linings,
“People can lose their lives in libraries. They ought to be warned.” ~ Saul Bellow