Why Libraries Suck.

I know, it’s basically book-lover blasphemy, but I think it’s about time I came clean: I do not like libraries.

I’ll give you a moment to control the shock and confusion you are no doubt experiencing as you read this – a reader who ISN’T obsessed with an establishment whose sole purpose is to supply the general public with an endless supply of FREE books? What nonsense! But seriously, hear me out.

My first issue with this whole book-borrowing infrastructure is that I like to keep my books. Even the ones I don’t particularly enjoy reading. I guess I can’t call myself an actual ‘collector’ because my books are hardly in mint condition (let’s just say ‘well-worn’ would be a huge understatement…), but my bookshelf is definitely a source of pride in my life. Whenever someone enters my room they are smacked in the face with everything I have ever read, on display for all to see, appreciate, and praise me for. ‘Wow, you’ve read all of these?’ Why yes, yes I have.
How am I supposed to impress people with my literary accomplishments if each book I conquer gets returned to some public shelf in the middle of town? You might think it’s weird, but as a nerdy, athletically-challenged child growing up I didn’t earn any trophies to display on a shelf above my bed – books are my trophies, and I’m proud of myself each time I finish something new. So is it a crime to want to display my accomplishments?

Related to that is the fact that I like my books to be worn. It shows that I’ve actually read them and they aren’t just for show – the dog-eared pages, the notes in the margins – it’s how I engage with the story and really get into what I’m reading. When I encounter someone else’s dog-ears and underlines I just get pissed off. It’s like someone else is randomly poking their head into my personal reading experience. “Oh you think this part is interesting? So did I, and I already noted it. Nothing about your reading of this page is unique, you might as well just give up now” — who wants other people’s comments popping up every few pages? No thank you.

I guess some might find it interesting to compare notes with other readers in this way, but if that’s what you’re looking for find a book club or a chat room (or a blog for that matter), leave my books alone!

Call me possessive, but I guess the point of this whole little rant is the fact that I just don’t like sharing books. And on top of everything else it’s just inconvenient trying to return them in a timely fashion (I’m pretty sure I’m on a poster somewhere in my local library, WANTED for excessive late fees. another reason I have vowed never to return).

There are plenty of blogs out there with overwhelming evidence of the fact that many wonderful libraries exist in the world: shelves full of books, plenty of comfy little nooks to sit and read. But the truth is, unless we’re talking about a room of bookshelves in my own house where each book is owned by me and leant only to close friends, libraries just aren’t my scene.

I just thank god this guy never worked at my local library, otherwise I’d be in trouble…

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30 thoughts on “Why Libraries Suck.

  1. I am just like you – I am beyond proud of the books I’ve collected since birth and cannot imagine giving them away to a library after finishing each one. I’ve never been fond of libraries; when I was younger, I tried keeping the books but that didn’t go too well (my mom found them). As a reader, people automatically think I love libraries and don’t get me wrong, I love being in them. I just can never borrow books there. Good to know I’m not the only one!

    1. I know! I almost feel a little guilty, like I’m betraying readers everywhere by not loving my local library, but hey, people read in different ways and there’s nothing wrong with owning books you love, right?

  2. Lol! It was like I was reading my own words! I feel the exact same way….about everything. A book on my shelf is like a trophy, an accomplishment. Why would I want to return it!

  3. Aaaahhh!!! I love my library. It’s National Library Week. I understand your point of view. I too like my books, yet there is no way I will own every book in the world nor have the money or space to place them in my home so it’s imperative I have a local library. At least you are a Book Booster. Come on by and sign up. It’s easy to see you love to read.
    Happy Pages,
    CricketMuse

    1. How random is it that the day I arbitrarily decide to write about my dislike for libraries happens to fall on National Library Week? I feel like a bit of a traitor…lol. Thanks for commenting, I’m glad someone brought up the good points of local libraries because I won’t deny that there are many, just not for me.

      And I’d just like to say that although it is extremely unlikely, it is still my mission to read (and own) every book in the world someday. I figure if I budget it out over the next 100 years or so and win the lottery at some point I should be able to afford it.

  4. Yes! My thoughts exactly. Even if I borrow a book I have to go and buy my own copy. If it isn’t on my shelf then its like I didn’t even read it. I also really don’t like lending people my books because then they aren’t all together!

    1. I have a love-hate relationship with book lending. I love sharing with my friends but I hate when my collection gets scattered and I forget who has what – I’ve started using a little notebook to keep track but I think I might be better off just telling them to buy their own! lol.

  5. See I agree. I too hate libraries and am inhumanly proud of my book collection, particular those that are now out of print. I also hate having to return books to libraries, particularly if I’ve enjoyed them, really, it’s like- but now i have to go out and buy this book dammit. The only real advantage of libraries is that when i’m poor like a little mouse, I can still indulge my reading habit, because sadly walking into bookstores is just dangerous dangerous territory with me. dangerous. i never leave with more than 2-3 books. bad times. 🙂 I shall be reblogging 🙂

  6. I have to admit, your headline got my attention. I was hoping you were being sarcastic. I am a proud library lover, but your post made me laugh. I had never thought about books and trohpies, but it’s a super image.
    Because I can’t affodrd to buy books in the volume I read, nor do I have a place to show or store them, I’m obsessed with recording my observations and building my virtual bookshelves on GoodReads. I love to see the large numbers, go back to look at certain quotes that moved me, and compare my shelves to my friends.

    1. ahh sorry to disappoint you with my lack of sarcasm in this particular instance. lol. I signed up for a goodreads account but haven’t really gotten into it and keep forgetting to update my reading status so it kind of defeats the purpose. when i have a bit more time to explore the site i hope to build it up a little more. thanks for the comment!

  7. Haha, I have to agree with you, my bookshelf is a thing of pride, often if I get a book from the library I end up buying my own copy later.
    One thing I do find useful though is sometimes you can come across some real hidden gems that you may not have ever come across in other bookshops. 🙂

    1. thats a good point! when i was in university i was all about the online research, it wasn’t until fourth year that i discovered the value of actually going to the physical shelf and finding all kinds of other sources that i wouldn’t have thought to look up conveniently located in the same spot. so point for libraries on that one.

  8. I can relate. I went through a time when libraries really weren’t for me. I preferred to keep ALL my books and never get rid of them. My books showed me where I have been, my reading journey, so to speak. I can’t remember all the books I have ever read if I give them back to the library.

    Eventually, I had another problem. I was running out of bookspace, and there was that pesky little problem that kept cropping up– money. 🙂

    I recently started going back to libraries when I wasn’t sure if I was going to like or keep the book I wanted to read.

    I enjoyed your post!

    1. im glad you liked it! its always nice to hear from people who can relate to my little rants. my dream is to one day own a house with a library as big as the one in beauty and the beast – shelf space would never be a problem again! lol.

  9. I am in the middle of the road on this one. I am at my local library at least twice a week. But, I too, like to display my books like trophies in my home. If I really like a book I borrowed from the library, I will then buy it to add to my collection, so I can read it again, anytime I want. OR what happens a lot of the time is that the library doesn’t have a book available that I desperately want to read, and so then I will have no choice but to buy it. I try to trick myself into thinking that I can be satisfied with borrowing a book, reading it an returning it, because I know that I shouldn’t buy more books, but in the long run it just doesn’t end up like that! lol

    1. lol, i know! placing limits on your book buying is definitely easier said than done. but at the end of the day there are worse things you could be spending money on, so i say go for it! lol

  10. Oh, and I should probably mention that libraries are more than just places that lend out paper books. If you’re talking about an academic library, then the library facilitates the teaching, learning, and research goals of its teachers and students in myriad of ways that are not just buying them print books. For instance, the library negotiates licenses and buys the e-content that make up journals, databases, scholarly treatises . . . etc. The library is also involved in the production and dissemination of research by supporting open access journals and data repositories. These are the
    “basic building blocks” of research made possible by the library.

    If you’re talking about public libraries, then besides print materials, public libraries also hold CDs, DVDs, and lots of things that you wouldn’t be able to get for yourself on the open market because they’ve been out of print for so long. Increasingly, public libraries are also acting as community centers, a place for people to meet and carry out activities that make their cities their own. In tough economic times, public libraries are also places people go to access the Internet, get help on writing their resumes, conduct their own small businesses, and whatnot.

    So there you have it: even if you don’t like library books, there are lot more services that libraries offer that you probably may like very much.

    1. thanks for the comment! you brought up a lot of valid points about the many valuable services that libraries provide. part of my university course actually touched on the ‘information industry’ so i learned a bit about all the amazing things librarians do and it was really enlightening for me. Most people don’t realize that libraries do a lot more than lend books so I’m glad you brought this up. I’ve never really taken advantage of the educational sessions or community activities offered at my local library but I know a lot of people find them really helpful. The title of my post might be a little on the harsh side, but let’s get real, I’m a book-lover and I’ll always support an institution that fosters a love of learning and makes it available to everyone.

  11. I cherish my books for many reasons, one being my poor memory. Your blog here did strike a chord with me, but a word of warning, mind your books, be gentle. It is as good as a feeling having your books in 30 years time as it is now. I have one that I was given when I was four, it may need surgery soon, but I love having it.

    1. Thanks for the advice! I’ve got a random selection of very old books passed down through my family that have definitely been through the ringer (we’re talking disintigrated spine and floating pages, it isn’t pretty)…but I love the fact that they’re part of my bookshelf and I love the idea of my favourite books being featured on future bookshelves as well – point well taken: well-worn is nice, but a book that lasts is better!

  12. I feel the same way! My mom used to make me get books from the library instead of buying them, but I would usually end up asking for the ones I liked for Christmas anyway. 🙂 I like being able to revisit them anytime I want.
    It’s probably just me (or maybe it’s my library), but I also don’t like libraries because everyone moves around so quietly with serious looks on their faces. At least in bookstores people talk and enjoy themselves! And I can’t stand the plastic taped to the dust covers of library books. It’s always in the way. 😉
    Great post!

    1. It may not be economical, but owning books is just so much more satisfying! I’m always reading blogs from people who love their libraries and have great experiences there, but it sounds like my local library is more like yours, lots of shushing and frowning. lol. Thanks for the comment 🙂

  13. I am a librarian, but gosh this post made me laugh! I especially loved the part about books being your trophies- I too am “athletically-challenged” as you stated, so I can definitely relate! My bookshelf (actually..bookshelveS) are my pride and joy. But thank goodness for libraries, for my bank account could never afford my habits. 🙂

  14. I don’t like my city public libraries for opposite reasons: I can never find any books or materials that are useful to me.

    It’s all just a pile of pop culture crap. The only libraries I can go to find good research materials is university libraries. The public city ones just don’t have much of anything unless I want to be read up on the “Twlight” series and inane things like that.

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