11 of the Very Best Things About Libraries (Besides the Books)

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A heartening new study came out recently confirming that young people use the library at least as often as older people, and that their utilization of the resources the library provides are actually much more diverse than their parents. This shouldn’t surprise anybody who has been in a library lately. As the library systems across North America fight against the constant threat of closure and work hard to remain relevant, up to date, and thriving, they have implemented programs and community resources to attract as many users as possible, while preserving all the things we’ve always loved about the library.

Libraries offer endless knowledge, yes —but if you look past the stacks, there is much to appreciate and discover. From in-house cafés and free tech to cozy nooks and blissful quiet, the library is still the perfect place to gather, learn, rest, or just escape for an afternoon. No wonder then, even in the age of Amazon, we still find so many good reasons to visit the library, beyond, of course, the books.

If you're a library-lover, you know that these 11 reasons are why libraries will always hold a place in your heart. And if you haven't stepped inside one in a while...well, let me convince you why you should:

FREE WI-FI

Yes, Wi-Fi should be like electricity — ubiquitous, without having to even think about its existence. Well, we’re not quite at that stage yet, but one place you’ll always be able to go to enjoy the electricity and the Wi-Fi? Yep, the library.

THAT OLD BOOK SMELL

What is it about mildewy paper, aged leather, and dust that when wafting together in a stuffy building becomes so comforting? It’s the smell of infinite wisdom, and it should be bottled and sold. Actually, no — it should just be enjoyed for free at — where else! The library.

NOBODY WILL EVER TELL YOU NOT TO GO TO THE LIBRARY

Need an excuse to leave the house for a while? Just head to the library. No parent, sibling, spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, or nosy neighbor will ever tell you that you should skip the library and just stay home. The assumption, of course, is that you are going to the library to do some serious work or contemplation. But we’ll never tell.

THERE'S NO SUCH THING AS LOITERING IN A LIBRARY

Unlike in a fancy coffee shop, no snooty barista will throw you shade for buying a $2 coffee and then taking up a table for the entire afternoon while you pound away on your MacBook. In fact, your library may even have an in-house café, the coffee will be cheap, and nobody will bat an eyelash as you sit all day working on your future bestseller.

IT'S OH SO QUIET

One of the very best things about the library is that there is still an expectation to be quiet while you’re there. You might have to put a little bit of distance between your desk and the children’s area, but whether you’re there to read, work, study, or just chill out, you’ll be able to do it in peace.

WEIRD ARCHIVES

Need to research local land allotments from 200 years ago, or maybe the enrollment records every famous person that has ever attended your university? Perhaps you’re into area ghost stories or 19th-century domestic advice. Whatever strange nugget you’re trying to find, the library will probably have it in its archives.

SPEAKERS, AUTHOR MEET AND GREETS, READINGS

Libraries are constantly hosting writers, experts, and guest lecturers — and they're almost always free! Take full advantage of the library’s offerings – think GNOs, date nights, or just something to do when you are a book-lover with Champagne tastes and a beer budget.

CLUBS, CLUBS, AND MORE CLUBS

Book clubs, cooking clubs, genealogy clubs, history clubs, mystery clubs: Many libraries are a haven for gatherings of like-minded people. Ask your librarian about the clubs that gather there, and go find your people for a (commitment- and cost-) free hobby night.

COMMUNITY MEETING SPACES AND BOARDROOMS

Are you an entrepreneur without office space? Do you want to hold a gathering in a more professional setting than your living room? Head to the library! Many libraries have community meeting spaces, boardrooms, and private areas that are available to reserve for free.

BETTER THAN A DATING SITE

Okay, so it’s not a great idea to turn a library into some kind of pick-up joint, and this isn’t a suggestion that you head to the library to find a mate, but think about it — if you do meet a potential SO while you’re there, you already know that you have something very, very important in common. And it never hurts to look.

THE MORE TIME YOU SPEND IN A LIBRARY, THE MORE UNEXPECTED THINGS YOU'LL FIND THERE

From knitting circles and midday movies, to draughty old basements full of local treasures, libraries are a veritable treasure-trove of unexpected delights. It can take a little time to discover all the secrets the library keeps, but hey, what better excuse to keep going back?

Images: Pablo Dodda/Flickr; Giphy (12)