Finding the library connection

September is library card signup month. In Princeton, as in many towns with colleges and universities, signups are boosted by new students moving in, looking for connections and study spaces. Individuals and families of all ages who are either new to town or just new to the library are coming in and getting to know us, as well. 

We love to see the different ways people use the space for work, school, or casual time. People tell us a little about their research when asking for books, or just wave as they head off with the newspaper to a favorite reading spot. Kids burst in with enormous stacks of books to return, then come back down from the children’s floor with another enormous stack to take home. Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday mornings, fleets of strollers roll in for story time. Some people are regulars who attend every film or use our computers every day; some people are newcomers who come for a favorite author’s speaking events or just need to send a one-time fax; some people come in to see what book catches their eye, and others come armed with a list of titles every time. Whatever their motivation, we’re glad to see all of them using the space and our collections in the way that suits them.

I have belonged to libraries my whole life. Some have been beautiful, others a little more disheveled. All have had their own spirit, informed by the people who work there and the people who make use of the space. In my hometown, there’s a main library and a separate children’s library, both in historic buildings that were truly magical spaces to grow up in. When I moved away to Pittsburgh to go to college, the university library was a little bleak, aesthetically, though good for focusing on projects, but across the street was the bright and open Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh that had the first café I’d ever seen in a public library and a view from the stacks to the dinosaurs in the natural history museum next door. As a newly graduated adult I found my local branch library to be more homely, but still cozy in its own way. Now, working at Princeton Public Library, I get to see the world of the library from both sides, as a librarian and as a reader. Libraries aren’t perfect places, of course—people are people wherever you go, and no library can hold every item someone might want at any given moment—but in general they continue to offer that magical blend of information, enjoyment, and discovery that is their essence.

This month, new cardholders at PPL can pick up a bingo card to get to know the library better and have a chance to win a prize. If you have a new neighbor or know of a family member who doesn’t yet have a library card, whether they live in Princeton or elsewhere, please share the word about the value of libraries. We like to say that the library has something for everyone, and we hope everyone will take the opportunity to find what speaks to them.

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