Adventures in Public Libraries


Whenever I move to a new place I really start to feel like a local once I have my public library card. 

I love libraries and I love library cards. When I was a fairly little kid my mom got me my very own library card and told me about being responsible and returning books on time, etc., and then we went to the library once a week. Three things: 1-when you have a ton of siblings, not very many things are yours and just yours, 2- when you have a ton of siblings, places are very seldom quiet and 3- the library is maybe the only place where my mother said yes to getting everything I wanted. Thus began a long and beautiful friendship with the public library system.

[Side note: Once when I was doing placement test assessment for incoming college freshman one of them proposed in his essay that library cards should be free. He was really going for a tone of righteous indignation. So close.]

I moved to Denver exactly a month ago and a little over two weeks ago I walked to the closest public library branch to get my library card. Before going I checked out the catalog online so I might have some ideas of what I’d look for. 

Something I always do at a new library is check for a random poet– someone I’m sure they’ll have– and get the call number just so I can find the poetry section easily. This time I searched “Emily Dickinson” and was really shocked and pleased when The Emily Dickinson Reader by Paul Legault showed up. I thought, man this library must have a pretty great contemporary poetry section!

Off I went to the library, anticipating this sweet poetry section, thinking Denver is so magical (and it totally is) and I was a little surprised when I saw the library and it was very very small. We could call it adorable. And I was still thinking, wow, with such a small library they still have a good poetry section; that’s awesome!

First, of course, I get my library card so I’m legit. One cool thing is that you get to pick the color of your card. I chose purple, obvy. Then I head on back to search for Legault’s book when I realize that the library does not have an extensive contemporary poetry section– they have an almost non-existent contemporary poetry section– about the size someone would anticipate from a library its size.  What they do have, is a slightly larger humor section, and that’s where The Emily Dickinson Reader is– right between Stuff White People Like and This is a Book by Dimitri Martin. Which is actually, given the book, kind of not even that wrong.

And I laughed and laughed.  But like, quietly– it was a library and I’m not a maniac.

I already own The Emily Dickinson Reader, so I left without any poetry but with two books about epidemics! Yay! And then there’s an ice cream parlor across the street from the library! So many wins!

Oh, and if you haven’t already you should totally read The Emily Dickinson Reader by Paul Legault. You can buy it here.



One thought on “Adventures in Public Libraries

  1. Hello, friend Caroline, I too enjoy the public library, and yet haven’t gotten my own card from the Athens one yet. Altho I was thinking about this younger sister thing yesterday and started thinking about how possessive I was of books that were MINE. I put my name, birthday, address, all over the books. I even wrote back to Anne, or to Kitty, in the Diary of Anne Frank. Hm. And I dog ear everything. Where was I going with this?


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