The Appeal of Libraries

I was reading a book called “I Loved the Bookstore,” and I started thinking about a story that was completely different from the substance of the content, so I want to write about the appeal of libraries.
For your information, “I Loved the Bookstore” is a behind-the-scenes look at the creation and sale of what is known as a hate book. It’s an interesting book that makes you think about the social influence of bookstores.

However, it has little to do with the book’s content. I’d like to think about the appeal of libraries as a story about books.

I have loved books since I was a child, but I have not experienced going to a bookstore very often.
I guess the fact that the library was located within a three-minute walk from my house where I was born and raised was a big reason for this.
I had been going to the library since I was a child, and the lady who worked there looked after me. Even at school, I would go to the library during recess and after school, and the library was the place where I would read books and share interesting books with my friends.
When I got to college, I had to buy books as “textbooks” because it was the norm at Japanese universities, but at graduate schools in the U.S., I could borrow more than 50 books as a graduate student and keep them on hand for a year or more if you renewed them, so I could hardly buy any books.
In bookstores, books are on the latest hot topics and books are laid out flat on the shelves in intriguing layouts to entice you to buy them. At the library, however, most of the books are lined up on the shelves and you have to take them out to see their covers, making it difficult to find the book you want to read unless you are looking for it.
However, I spent my college years without money and moved around a lot, so the library was always a great help to me.

[Free no matter how much I read]
Of course, it doesn’t matter how many library books you read, they’re free. And most communities where you live have a library, and if you’re a resident, you can register for free. Even if the library nearby don’t have a book you want to read, they have a partnership with your local library and will order it for you, so you may be surprised to find it if you ask. There is a lending period, which you have to adhere to, but I figure that if you borrow a book for two weeks and don’t read it, you probably won’t read it even if you own it, so it’s probably the same if you buy it. I think it’s really great to have free access to books not only in areas you’re interested in, but also in areas you know nothing about.

[They’ll buy the books you want]
I think this depends on the community and the library’s budget, but if you can’t find a book you want to read, you can request it, they often buy it for you, surprisingly. It may take some time to purchase a book, but there are not many people requesting to buy a book, so I have not had many refusals for a book I wanted. If you don’t have the budget for your local library, you can try to find or request a book at your local prefectural or municipal library. If you’re a student, your university library will almost always be willing to purchase your books.
If you live in Tokyo, you can find any book published in Japan at the National Diet Library.

[Find your favorite shelf]
The first thing I do when looking for a book in the library is to find my favorite shelf. In most libraries, the shelves are divided by genre. If you know what genre you want to read, such as foreign literature, Japanese literature, social history, history, social work, business, and so on, you will be able to find the books you are interested in, even if you don’t have a specific title in mind.
When I was in elementary school, I admired foreign countries and read every shelf of foreign literature from left to right. It is doubtful that I understood Dostoevsky and Dickens as a schoolgirl, but I remember being fascinated by the descriptions of foreign countries and people.
Nowadays, the women’s history and gender shelves are my favorites.

I think reading books has many purposes. Some of them are for “academic” purposes such as gaining knowledge, borrowing wisdom from previous researchers, or laying a solid foundation for a particular study; others are for “educational” purposes, such as reading foreign literature for the sake of foreign countries, getting to know different countries through travel guides, or learning how to cook through how to books. There are some “nerdy” ways to read girls’ novels, romance, and other characters that you can get into. I think the appeal and significance of libraries is that they make any kind of reading accessible to all people.