Finding Joy In A Public Library

Jensen enjoying a library book

Recently I’ve rediscovered the joy of using a public library. This has happened for a number of reasons. My list of books to read is large & grows faster than I can read. And I don’t really need to own all these books. I feel a little guilty admitting this because I assume that authors earn more royalties from books purchased than they do from books borrowed from libraries. However if I purchased every book that I want to read I’d pretty soon run out of room to store them. Buying digital copies of them doesn’t always work for me either. I buy them occasionally but still struggle to enjoy the process of reading a digital book. They just don’t feel right to me.

Borrowing books instead of buying them also saves me money which is something I’ll never complain about. Most important however is sharing the library with my nephew Jensen. He is four years old & loves everything about being at the library.

Together we return books using the return chute located on the library’s entrance. A metal opening in the wall is unlocked by the presence of a book placed in front of a scanner. This is very exciting! A beeping sound is made when the chute is ready to accept another book & it shines a green or red light depending on what stage of accepting books it is in.

Once our books are returned we enter the library, and Jensen excitedly runs over to the children’s section. I don’t remember being allowed to run in the public library when I was a child. I remember the library as a place to move slowly, almost reverently & to ensure browsing was done as quietly as possible. The building that housed the library was old & dark & it did not feel welcoming to children. It was a stark contrast to the building that houses the public library today. This building is large, open & full of natural & artificial light. Chairs & tables are placed strategically to encourage visitors to linger.

Jensen isn’t discouraged by the librarians when they see him run. They don’t shush us to be quiet; they accept that this is the behaviour of kids having fun in a place they like to be. What a blessing this acceptance is.

A beautiful children’s book I recently borrowed from the library, titled Where is the Frog?

The children’s section is full of bright colours & encouraging words about the wonders of reading. Sometimes we first pick books to sit & read, other times we play with the blocks before selecting books to borrow. I love watching Jensen as he decides what books to borrow. I honestly have no idea what his criteria is. About all I can say with any assurance is the the cover needs to catch his eye. He studies the covers quickly, in stark contrast to how I select a book; I take time to assess the cover then read the blurb on the back. For Jensen however if the cover image catches his eye with something fun or features an animal that he likes then it will be borrowed.

Once the books are chosen we go to the hold area so I can collect the books that I’ve reserved for myself. The excitement then kicks up a notch again as we go through the process of checking out the books. Jensen places my card on the computer bench so it can scan my library card. We then take it in turn scanning books & putting them in our library bag. Once done we collect the borrowing receipt that the computer spits out & then we make our way to the cafe. Because you can’t visit the library without enjoying a chocolate milkshake & something to eat!

One day I’d like to take Jensen & his brother Eli to the library, to read a book that I’ve written & had published. They have sparked my interest in writing for children & it would be a perfect day if we could read together a book that I have written.


  1. 2cheekymonkey says:

    Kim, I absolutely loved this post. It took me right back to being a kid and the joy I felt at stepping into the public library in town. It was an old (Victorian?) building, with different areas off the main entrance; the children’s section, the music section, the adult fiction section. You went up a few steps into some areas, down a few steps into others. The internal architecture was grand. As you made tour way downstairs, to the non-fiction area, the staircase was full of light and you passed big, ornate vases, old paintings and taxidermy animals. I loved that building so much…I even did my work experience there. But, of course, things move on. Our new library is a modern affair, with no rhyme nor reason to its layout. The art gallery is attached and leads to the old library building which, many years on, still stands empty. It’s such a shame. Having said that, the long-empty town hall has recently been made into a cinema, blending the old and new beautifully, so I shan’t give up home that the old library might get a new lease of life yet. Thank you for sharing your library adventure and stirring these memories in me.

    Lindsey xxx “Be you. The world will adjust.”


    1. Kim Cofield says:

      I am pleased that you enjoyed this post Lindsay & that it evoked memories of your childhood library.
      The old public library (which is what long term locals refer to it as) was for me somewhere that offered promise but it felt too stuffy & almost scary to bring about a love of it in me. Instead I felt connected to the library of my primary school, despite the fact that many of its books felt too young for me. I was an advanced reader & quickly outgrew the books on offer at school. I desperately wanted to feel comfort at our public library but try as I might I could not make it work for me.
      Our new local library (which far from new but again thats what local vernacular refers to it as) is modern; I guess it doesn’t feel particularly personal but I’ve realised how difficult that is to achieve in a building whose use is for many types of people. Its layout is easy to navigate & spacious. I’m beginning to feel comfortable within it, helped enormously by sharing it with Jensen 🙂

Leave a Comment

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.