10 Reasons Libraries Are Still Totally Top Shelf
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10 Reasons Libraries Are Still Totally Top Shelf

10 Reasons Libraries Are Still Totally Top Shelf
Liberty Park

Inhale. Exhale.

Yep, that's the smell of printed paper filling the air, infiltrating your senses and bringing you into the space of your personal favorite library.

Feel your shoulders relaxing, that headache dissipating and a deep silence pervading the air around you.

Amazing what the imagination can do, right?

Libraries have been getting a bad rap these days, with more and more "people of the technological age" complaining that libraries are extraneous and unwanted in a world of Kindles and iPads. But, I'm here to tell you that those people are full of horse feathers.

Recently, I was fortunate enough to spend several hours embedded in the recesses of one of the UW-Madison campus libraries. Since the school I attend, Millikin University's library has been under severe renovations, it had been a while since I had a moment to spend in a large, well proportioned library.

It reminded me that there is no replacement for a so-called "old-fashioned" paper and ink library.

1. The sensory experience

What I just described in the preface has a lot to do with the overall library appeal. The quiet, cool, old-book-smell filled hallways and shelves of a library offer an often-welcome escape from the hustle and bustle of the outside world. Add the feel of an honest-to-goodness book, one with palpable pages that your eyeballs and fingers can caress and turn without having to swipe a screen, and you've got a feast for your senses that is pretty darn incomparable.

If you're lucky enough to be studying or relaxing in a library such as the Old Library (see above) at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, the light will softly filter through a veil of arching windows and hold the text you're reading in a glow that's all natural and doesn't take a hertz of electricity. The often tedious perusal for certain titles will turn into a pleasure in itself because the wooden bookshelves offer plenty of room for your exploration mission.

2. The history

On my aforementioned library trip, I happened across an authentic 1850's Shakespeare anthology. Besides quickening my theater major's heartbeat a few bpm, it amazed me to be able to handle a piece of living history. To touch and read a book from 200 years ago makes history fluent and tangible like nothing else.

They say "history is written by the winners," a statement that is true and unknowingly enforces the importance of libraries and access to the documents that history was written on in the first place.

Beyond the books, each library, no matter the age, holds a certain quality of human history in the walls themselves as well. The amount of human learning, sharing and understanding that occur in them leaves an energetic and physical footprint all their own.

3. The peace of mind

I used to bridle against studying in a library, citing my inability to focus when around strangers as an excuse for what was usually a poorly hidden procrastination attempt.

In actuality, studying in libraries is one of the best ways to accomplish anything that you need to get done. The good ones have a plethora of nooks and crannies for you to create a work space in that's all your own. Headphones help to improve this
"cone of studiousness," and because it's always quiet, you won't have to worry about your next-door neighbors' bass contrasting to your sweet tunes.

5. The happy accidents

One of the better aspects of discovering a new or beloved library is the way that certain books lead you to others. It's like Christmas morning when you locate a particular book, only to look up and see more of its kind in all shapes and sizes!

Even if you find yourself looking in all the wrong places for that certain elusive call number, (as I myself have never done…*ahem*), the books you end up finding can only be brought to you by some weird sort of librarian voodoo otherwise known as fate. The trail of one book leading to another is something that doesn't exist anywhere else on the planet in the same form.

Many times the books you find by accident are the books that teach you the most.

6. The community space

The library in my hometown houses not only shelves upon shelves of books, CDs and films, it also a play area for young children and classrooms for group activities. It has become a true hub for the community--a warm, distracting and sunny haven on frigid winter days, and cool, invigorating and inviting on the lazy summer ones.

I remember going there to escape the heat and jump into various fictional universes as a youngster, using it as the basis for many a play date, bringing children I babysat there for a bit of respite and overall using it as an important life resource.

7. The environmental impact

As an aspiring eco-lifestyle liver, there is another level to library appreciation beyond the convenience and other obvious rewards through having a library addiction.

If you think about the sheer amount of books (among the millions of other goods) produced, purchased, and thrown away each year, libraries--i.e. sharing a large collection of books with several hundred or thousands of other people--make a lot of sense in the greater human footprint.

Instead of a single-use instance of "buy a book and throw it out or let it collect dust" try the Uber of books--a library, and save a few trees from ending up in the landfill while you're at it!

8. The information accuracy

With the infinite expanse of the internet at our fingertips nearly constantly, it has become second nature to accept the facts we "learn" in the world wide web as the one and only truth. Wikipedia, WikiHow and the like have made information that much easier to access, which on one hand is a great thing, but when it comes down to utilizing said information, it's best to have it from a certain source.

Published books tend to have gone through many more phases of editing and proofing than any website or article on the internet, with a few exceptions.

It's a relief to be able to know that the information you're taking in has a good amount of qualified people standing behind it!

9. The puzzle-solving

Finding the call numbers the computer spat out at you is always an adventure. One can't describe the strange satisfaction finally finding the book you've been looking for.

It's probably some primal part of the brain that says: "Hey, look I can hunt!" or something along those lines, but it's still more exciting than just typing in a few keywords.

Searching for the knowledge makes the imbibing it that much sweeter!!

10. The magic

If you happen to have been born in the United States in the past 25 years, chances are you've seen the magnificent library scene in Disney's "Beauty and the Beast." Belle's reaction to being given a whole new world of brain fodder in an age when women weren't allowed to be smarter than their husbands always made my heart light up.

The mystique and magic that hovers over a well tended library is unlike many other places you're likely to experience in the world. So enjoy it! Go love a library today.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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