Once again, I didn’t know what I was reading until I opened it and silly me had assumed this was a novel. But it was SO MUCH BETTER. Also that I got it from my library. That made me happy too.
The Library Book is a chronicling of the history of the Los Angeles Public Library, focused around the 1986 fire that raged for seven hours and destroyed hundreds of thousands of books. It’s just as horrifying as it sounds and it has been impossible to pin down if it was accidental or arson or in any way how (or really where) it started. The stacks created the perfect fuel, the fire was so hot it burned clear, and it took years to replace. Also, fun fact, if a lot of books get wet and you can’t dry and treat them all at once, freeze the ones you need to get to later. Prevents mold from growing in the meantime.
But the book isn’t just about the first. It’s also about the 150+ year history of the LA Public Library. It’s about libraries and the multitude of functions they serve and about librarians and the multitude of functions they serve. And it made me realize how much I love libraries and how much I underutilize them.
A library is a good place to soften solitude; a place where you feel part of a conversation that has gone on for hundreds and hundreds of years even when you’re all alone.
That line just really spoke to me. I have so many fond memories of visiting my local library as a kid. Of doing (and acing) the summer reading challenges, of pouring through Choose Your Own Adventure books and learning to find my favorite ending and work backwards, of finally graduating out of the childrens’ books, of attending after-school or summer programming and making crafts I would keep for years. Now I am a digital user of the library and my closest branch is a mile away (and I’m on foot) so going is a bit of a special occasion. But this book has definite inspired me to go.