The Value of Libraries: From the Eyes of a Book Blogger

The first time I walked into a library, I never understood the true power of being amongst such vast knowledge and history. I just knew that I liked books, and that I was broke so I needed some way to escape my boredom. Now, after nearly three years of being a book blogger and Youtuber, I can proudly admit that if not for libraries I would have never ended up where I am today.

I owe my love of books to libraries. Over time, my love for reading became more about overcoming those long days when I finished my homework or studying and had nothing else to do. It became more about completing those school reading logs that we were assigned once a week (which for the record I mostly lied about). I read to fight dragons, travel through time and fall in love, all in the comfort of my bedroom. I loved the feeling of leaving my mundane life behind for a few hours to explore another possibility of life.

When I was first introduced to the book blogger universe, I didn’t have many titles on my shelf. That’s why I looked to the library to fill my literary needs and to keep up with a number of books I was reading per week. A common misconception that I think a lot of prospective or newbie bloggers have before joining the community is that you need to have an entire bookshelf filled with titles to review. This belief was even more prominent in the Booktube (Books on Youtube) community because every time you’d watch someone talk about books, it seemed like they always had this huge library as their background. It doesn’t work that way. For the longest time, I thought that I needed towering bookshelves behind me to feature in my videos for fear that they wouldn’t be good enough. Despite the fact that I do, now, have a large bookshelf, it didn’t start out that way. My first Booktube video was a book haul I filmed behind my only bookshelf that hung atop my dresser. I didn’t have nearly the amount of books I have today. And I was okay with that.

Most of the bloggers and Youtubers I came across were in their late teens and early 20’s, individuals who were capable of making their own income and buy all the books they wanted. I, on the other hand, was an unemployed 14-year-old who felt guilty after continually asking my parents to buy me books. Libraries were my only other option, as they are for many other people in the world.

I was fortunate to have a library only a few blocks away from my house. I’d sometimes walk there (if I wasn’t planning on borrowing a ton of books) or I’d ask a parent to drive me. And I continued to do so for about a year- borrowing books, reviewing them and returning them (when I remembered). I took out the max number of books I was able to and even spent some time sifting through the books in the ebook library as well. My local library was always there for me with new book releases to review, therefore making my reviews and blog more relevant in the eyes of other bloggers and readers. It was my sanctuary on Friday evening where I could get away from the stress of school to talk to other library-goers about their favorite books.

Now three years later, I have a job that allows me to buy all the books I want. I am also grateful to the authors and publishers who send me their books for review and promotional purposes. I prefer buying books rather than borrowing them because I can add the titles to my personal collection. As a book blogger, I have a sentimental connection to every book I read, whether I like it or not. It’s just how I am. But even despite these facts, I have never forgotten the role of libraries in my life and how they contributed so much to my blogging career.

People are saying that the importance of libraries in our society is dwindling. Although that’s a fair point to make, I also think that libraries have never been more prominent institutions. As the price of books and ebooks alike increase, readers look to libraries to provide them with a free reading experience, even if it is on a deadline. Teenagers prefer libraries to their own rooms as a place for a quiet working time. I have friends who invite me to library hangouts, claiming that they’ll actually get work done, as if by just changing the location somehow their brains will be stimulated to work harder. Not everyone can afford to buy books. And why should they have to? There are so many people I know who borrow from the library first to make sure they’ll even like the book before buying a copy of it for themselves, which is totally ethical (unless you’re me and think every book is your “baby”. I swear it’s probably just me!) Although I may not actively seek out libraries now, I respect them and understand their importance in small communities. They are and will always be the birthplace of my reading career and a place in my life I will never stop visiting.

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