The return of the library

Posted: September 18, 2013 by terryvandrovec in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Your boy has a new hangout: The library.

“But you don’t even read, TV.”

No, no, I do not. (Cue sound of future job prospects being flushed down the toilet.) But I do use the Internet. And I like snacks and comfy seats and giant windows and funky decor. And quiet – mostly quiet.

See, I do a majority of my work outside the office, be it at home or on location. But neither of those places are conducive to uninterrupted trains of thought. Plus, I’ve read (gasp!) that writing in difference spots can help fuel the creative process. So I often seek refuge in coffee shops, gyms, parked cars – you name it.

The problem is that most of those places are bad for my bank account and/or my girlish figure.

TV digs the new library in his neighborhood.

TV digs the new library in his neighborhood.

But not this new library – it’s free to use. And, yes, Sioux Falls still does things like build new libraries. This one was finished over the summer. It’s more than 15,000-square feet, cost $4.3 million and is located maybe a mile from my home on the far west side of the city, a stone’s throw from an elementary school and a middle school.

It has books, of course. And (probably) magazines. But it also has a bunch of computers and DVDs and vending machines and an excellent WiFi signal. You can reserve a conference room for meetings or video conferencing. There’s a quiet room for, you know, quiet, something that is extinct in my six-person household.

It’s welcoming and comfortable and bright and serves many uses. It’s modern and smart, seemingly designed to bring people in. Still, it feels weird that I could care less about its books.

I’ve been a library guy since back in the day, spending countless hours there in the summer with my then-teacher mom and younger brother. We’d go there to read and listen to story time and just sort of hang out on the bean bags in the kid section. I have nothing but fond memories of the two-level downtown building, and give partial credit to the time spent there for my writing career.

So the question is this: Are libraries still important to society if they’re as much Internet cafes as book warehouses?

I think they are; I hope they are. I like the idea of having so much information in one place. Yes, you can now get just as much information – infinite – on your laptop or smart phone, but it’s not calling out to you the way it does in a library; it’s the difference between the idea of information versus the existence of information. It’s not unlike reading a newspaper online versus buying a physical copy, I suppose.

Mostly, a library is a center of learning, and in that regard incorporating new technology is a shrewd move. Hopefully, it’ll encourage folks to use modern tools to further their intellectual pursuits as well as their entertainment interests.

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