Despite Oklahoma being known for a place with dismal public schools and a ramshackle host of legislators whose skulls seem to be full of rocks, we do have great libraries. In particular, the Metropolitan Library System has served me well my entire life.
As a kid, my family would go every Saturday and browse, sit at the reading tables, and we'd all check out a tote bag each of books and magazines that we'd spend the whole week pouring through. In retrospect, I now realize another reason why I got made fun of a lot in grade school.
As an adult, I still cherish the library and will pop in, sometimes not even check out a book, just wander and explore and sit in the quiet reading room. Here are 5 other things I love about them:
Our society has a big phobia towards people without homes. Personally, unless I've been physically threatened I'm cool with them and sympathetic. The library has a similar policy and it's a safe space for them to get out of the heat, use a restroom, read, and occasionally use the internet to look at pornography until they get kicked out. I'm a dirtbag and feel comfortable around people that are often considered dangerous.
Okay, so sometimes the aroma can be overwhelmed by the vagrants, but that's not their fault. Places that trade in books all have different smells, whether they're selling new books, used books, or lending them. At a library, every book has traded hands so many times that there's this unique scent. Combined with the cool, crisp air conditioning in the summer, it's a pleasant experience.
There's always something random going on at the library. It could be a jazz trio in the lobby, a touring African storyteller, a clown named Tinkles who reads books to kids on a Saturday morning. My parents would dump us off at the Midwest City library often just because they were holding some kind of event. I kinda hated it, but at least they got to go and get brunch or whatever.
Good Way to Get Lost
My honest favorite part about our libraries is that they're safe spaces to just be alone inside your head for an hour or so. I don't know the Dewey decimal system, so I just wander aisle to aisle. It's quiet, except when one of the vagrants is blasting a Mudvayne song on his phone. I generally have no agenda, just looking for a book that strikes my interest in the moment. The librarians are always kind and helpful. Maybe it's because I'm a nerd, but it's my happy place, and I always walk out feeling better.
It's Free As Hell
Obviously, the books are free, which is amazing. If the idea of a library was proposed now, people would lose their shit. 'You mean my tax money is going to pay for a place where people can read FOR FREE? That's socialism!' But the astounding thing is that even though there are late fees, my library never charges me for them. I've racked up $20 fines and offered to pay them, and the librarians always go, 'Nah don't worry about it.' I legit want to pay so I can support their institution, and my money is no good there.
What do you like about the Metro Library System? Shout it out down below.