I love libraries. I have always been a fan. I grew up going to the Pullman Public Library with my family at least once a week. When I was six (or maybe seven) years old I got lost walking home from the library by myself for the first time. My mom had walked me home several times and she had taken me to the library but she left me to walk home by myself as my first grand adventure. Unfortunately I got lost and had to be brought home by a local policeman who knew my mom and happened to drive by when I was bawling on the sidewalk.
When I was in middle school we made a little reading club (W.O.R.M.s - World's Only Reading Masters) that met once a month in the evening at the public library. It was great to be able to go into the library when no one else could. The library has always been a place of peace and quiet, endless stories, and a place where you can find anything out. I have library cards from libraries all over the place - Forks, Washington; Olympia, Washington; Davis, CA; Corvallis, Or. Everywhere I lived, no matter how temporarily, I immediately got a library card.
In addition to loving libraries, I also used to own a lot of books. When I was little I owned some books but mainly checked books out from the library. But while I was in college and graduate school, I started buying more books - both reference books and fiction. With school work and other socializing, it took me too long to get through a book to rely on the library (I don't remember to renew books and it took me more than the standard two weeks to work through whatever stack of books I came home with). Anyway, because of that book buying plus living in towns with good used book stores and book stores that sold remainders, by the time I finished graduate school I owned a lot of books.
Then I had a random moment in life where for about a month I thought I was going to move to Washington, D.C. in a u-haul trailer. At that point, I gave away almost all of my books. I decided that even though I loved them all, I seldom re-read anything and I just didn't have room to take all of these books across the United States with me. It turned out I never moved to the East Coast, but by the time I realized I wasn't moving, the books were already gone.
So now I have a modest number of books and I have an intermediate strategy where I buy some books but check some out from the library. I still have a tendency to give away my books after I have read them. One drawback of this is that I can't look around me and see everything I have read. And sometimes I forget books that I would like to remember.
Anyway, tonight while driving home from a party I heard Alberto Manguel on To The Best of Our Knowledge talking about his ideal library. His ideal library is full of dark wood and is made of stone and is fairly dark and foreboding. He actually built this library and lives in it. Anyway, enough about him.
My ideal library would have lots of light and windows and would be full of good nooks and crannies for reading. It would have tables where you could eat scones and drink tea (I know it's not good for the books but it's my library damn it) and lots of comfy over stuffed chairs - wing chairs and square chairs, rocking chairs, and mid-century ones too. It would have window seats and lots of tall wood shelves made of some light colored wood like pine or bamboo. It would have great views of a really beautiful outdoor scenery- preferably coniferous forest or a lake or the ocean - someplace where it rains a lot. No open prairie. The school library at Evergreen has a lot of the features of my ideal library except that the book shelves are mainly metal and you can't eat in it.
So that's my dream library. Until I have my dream library, I will just focus on keeping Mitch from piling little girl guitars, remote controls, and music sheets on the only six pristine shelves of books in our entire house...