I can't remember ever NOT going to the library. As a teenager just mentioning that I wanted to go to the library was the only thing guaranteed to get my father to drive me anywhere. He was a man firmly esconced in his favourite chair in front of the TV, a pile of books beside him which he would read during the commercial breaks. Usually I could walk to the local library after school, but if I wanted to go to the library two suburbs down - which had the bigger selection of books - I had to be driven. The anticipation of the wonders I might find there had me squirming all the way to the library. I was never happier knowing I would be coming home with an armload of new books and that I'd get to discuss them with my father. This was our bonding experience.
The library holds such a central place in my life that getting a library card is the first thing I do whenever I move to a new suburb/town/city. Recently I was clearing out some suff and came across 5 library cards from various London suburbs I'd lived in. And while I can bear to throw most things away, I can't bear to throw my old library cards out. I do judge a place by it's libary, and looking at these cards reminds me of the places I have lived - some of which I have conveniently forgotten.
I can't forget the libraries themselves, though. My first local library, which I discovered when I was eight, still features in my dreams every now and then. The dreams are embued with an aura of excitement: What new book by a favourite author will miraculously appear on the shelf? What new worlds will I be drawn into? What new author will I discover?
But the libary experience excitement isn't there any more because it has become so incorporated into my weekly routine. Saturday always includes a visit to the library to pick out the book du jour to read at the local cafe over lunch and a cup of cappuccino. If I'm really lucky, I can finish the book and hand it back before it closes at 5pm, thus saving me a fortune in late book fines. Libary books have been known to languish in my home for months, sneakily hiding in my TBR pile, disguising themselves as bought books.
I still miss the bonding experience at the library with my dad. He lives in a country where libraries hold only reference books and encylopedias, so they're aimed at students and are by no means lending libraries. So before I visit my parents, Dad sends me his list of books and I order them from Amazon, or pick up anything SF he might like in the local bookshop, or just take the books I've finished reading. In a way, I've now become his personal lending library, so we've managed to continue that bonding experience over books. And I wouldn't have it any other way.
Any one else use the library to bond with loved ones?