I know from libraries, is what I'm saying.
My current library card is with the WCCLS, or Washington County Cooperative Library System. There are several great libraries within that group, of varying sizes and located in areas of varying convenience to my daily life. The cream of the crop, and perhaps the best library I've ever been in, is my home library, the Hillsboro Main Library.
What's so great about your library? you ask. And I thank you for your question, and enumerate its many fantastic aspects.
1. It's located by a series of manmade lakes and walking paths. If you want to take a walk, or sit on a bench by the water with your book, or bring the kids' bikes and let them blow off steam, or feed the geese--you can. Alternatively, if you want to sit inside to study or read, there are armchairs and desks with lovely, peaceful views all along the windowed wall.
2. And therefore, the library is full of natural light. Its two longer sides have plenty floor-to-ceiling windows. The interior of the library features lots of lighter colored wood, and the effect is a joyful space that welcomes nature.
3. Noisier activities--the kids' section, the DVDs, checkout, the cafe--are all downstairs. If your kids haven't quite mastered "library voice," nobody is going to glare at you. Upstairs, where the adult fiction and nonfiction are housed, the atmosphere is more traditionally hushed. If you don't want to listen to kids or chatter, you can find plenty of quiet there. This is what we call a win-win.
4. The lobby cafe features the cheapest good coffee in town, and if you buy a bag of fifteen donut holes for $1.50, you are likely to get somewhere around 20-30 donut holes in your bag, because apparently they like being generous with their donut holes. Also, one of the baristas likes to post riddles, which are always good for keeping kids occupied while you order.
5. Here are some things I have checked out at my library: books, DVDs, a rabbit shaped cake pan, an aeblskiver pan, puppets, audiobooks, a pre-loaded player for kids to listen to books on, a stud finder, an ice cream maker, a croquet set, piano music, board games, and a multi-pronged charger. I've also used their scanner and printer, and once a week, they offer free 3D printing. We haven't tried it yet, but c'mon, that's cool.
6. Once a month, the library shows the latest kids' DVD release on a big screen. Popcorn and apple juice are served, all you can eat. It is absolutely, 100% free. They also have monthly Lego play days, various crafting parties, and many other events that I haven't participated in but keep meaning to check out.
7. There's a hallway upstairs that shows quality local art, rotating monthly. Downstairs there are little glass cubbies that display small collections. I almost wept the month they had fabric art upstairs and antique cameras downstairs. My late mom belonged to the fabric art group displaying upstairs, and my late dad was a professional photographer whose early cameras looked a lot like one of the ones on display.
8. They have a "Caught Reading" poster of Taylor Swift in the lobby in which she is wearing a red knit dress that looks to be an exact replica of an Old Navy dress I picked up at Goodwill last year. This CRACKS ME UP. I tried to get my kids to take a picture of me with the poster once when I happened to be wearing the dress, but they were too mortified.
9. You never know when they're going to have something random and cool set up. One time my son and his buddy and I took selfies with Frozen masks in front of a winter backdrop they'd set up. Before the holidays, they had knitting needles and yarn, and patrons were invited to sit and knit squares that would be sewn into blankets to be donated. And for awhile they were letting you check out these sheep sculpted out of paper, asking you to take pictures of the sheep around town and post them to their Facebook page. What?
10. I bet you thought I was going to say "books." And of course, you were right. It's a big library, and it houses many books. The collections are up to date and comprehensive. The whole system is even bigger, so I can get almost anything by requesting it, but even if I could only access the books on their shelves, I'd be set. And did I mention that the library has a 100 item limit and a three week checkout that can be renewed four times? (How do I know there's a 100 item limit? Well, because when you attempt to check out more than that, your card gets rejected, and you have to ask a librarian nicely to let you have those last two books, swearing up and down that you returned five on your way in.)
All of these features (and more I've forgotten) combine to make this library a true community center. I can never get over how much they offer families, all for free. I know that any weekend, I can take my kids to the library and spend a few hours. The parking lot is constantly busy, as people from all walks of life make their ways through the doors. When I'm at my library, I can get downright misty eyed about it being the cornerstone of democracy, and when our property taxes make me cringe, I soothe myself with thoughts of all we get from the library.
I hope I haven't made you feel bad about your library. Any library that has books you want to read is a good library.
My library, however, is a great one.
What are some features you appreciate about your local library? Or is your library lacking? Are you a library lover or a library avoider?