Long ago, I decided that any town I lived in would have to have two things: a gym and a library. However, I sometimes found myself living in places without either one. The gym problem was solved by buying dumbbells and a rickety bench, but the library issue wasn't so easily fixed. I had to resort to scrounging giveaway book shelves or begging friends for their already-read books. I discovered to my delight that one remote ranger station was visited every two weeks by a bookmobile. On the day it was supposed to arrive, I would peer out the window impatiently until it rolled into view. The selection was limited, so I had to be quick to beat the other residents to the new books.
Some of the places I've lived had small libraries, basically one room, skewed heavily towards romance novels and detective stories. One sponsored an annual poetry contest, which I won two years in a row but was banned from winning after that, despite the contest being allegedly anonymous, because it would supposedly discourage other writers. Others seemed to be mostly used by people who didn't have computers at home, with the stacks deserted. The quiet "library voice," like the "restaurant voice" of my childhood, seems to be a thing of the past.
Now I have a Kindle, so I never run out of books. It has traveled with me on fire assignments and to places like Antarctica and Patagonia. I don't technically need the library anymore. But I still go there, because where else can you take something from a place, keep it for a few weeks, and bring it back, completely free?
And I discover that some things never change. The librarian still looks skeptical at the number of two week books that I have, just like when I was a child and would take out as many books as I was allowed. I still feel nerdily excited about the prospect of reading what I picked out. I wouldn't give up my Kindle, because it makes travel so much easier, but I'll always love the library.