On our recent trip down to the Shakespeare festival, we took the time to stop by a used & new bookstore called Main Street Books. It was lined wall to wall with enough books to fill a small library. They used all their spare room to fill with the volumes they had and still had piles on the ground and sometimes stacked two deep just to fit. It was a readers heaven. On top of that, the pricing was reasonable and they had some fantastic rare editions you could purchase as well. These kind of places are gems.
As I walked down the aisles of the wall to wall tomes it took me back to my childhood of wandering through libraries and enjoying the new and old selection they kept stocked. I would spend hours upon hours leafing through each set of pages in hopes of finding a handful to take home with me for the week. It was a sanctuary with little distraction, disturbance, and even less judgment. It too is a gem.
Sadly nowadays we have found our public libraries suffering and the existence of bookstores stocked with physical copies of the classics beginning to disappear. While technology must progress and our world is ever changing, these two types of gems should never disappear. But they cannot keep in operation without help.
I know there are arguments towards the idea of simply going completely digital. It saves space, it is accessible everywhere, it is the way of a technologically advanced life. While to a point I agree that certain things are welcome to be digitized, a physical library and old bookstore offer something that the online world cannot.
Let’s just take a moment to think about the purpose and utilization that a Library holds. Over 350,000 libraries worldwide and the majority of them are publicly accessible. A library is one of the only places that care more about you than the money they can make from your presence. They want you to stay, use their resources and expand your knowledge. They are there for those that cannot afford to buy all of the books they want, use a computer or resource at their home and help a lot of students focus on what is important for their studies. A library is an amazing resource that is a lot of times understaffed, underfunded and seen as a relic of our previous age. We need to change this mentality so that our generation and future generations have the advantage of self-edification and education.
That can also be said for the local bookstores that hold affordable books lightly used by previous owners. We should hold onto those manuscripts, pass them on and keep them alive and well. Literacy is a high commodity for a lot of places nowadays, but that doesn’t mean that we should suddenly assume that everyone has access to the digital copies of the books we love or that the value of the classically bound book.
So visit your local library or bookstore, keep the old and new literature alive.
Do you agree with us? What kind of great experiences have you had in bookstores and libraries? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!