Have you checked your wallet lately?

The question “What’s in your wallet?” may conjure a popular television commercial for a credit card, but for my money there’s a better answer. My library card.

My library card, in need of some serious TLC.

My library card, in need of some serious TLC.

It’s been in my wallet for so long, and has been used so often, it needs to be replaced. Or maybe just some duct tape therapy.

I love my local public library. It’s around the corner from where I live, and its location (location, location) is one of the reasons I bought my house.

I’m more than happy my tax dollars support it.

There’s the expected vast selection of books, DVDs and CDs, and I can search for anything online and have it sent from another library if need be.

They kindly e-mail me when my book is in, and send a reminder when it’s due. That’s a good thing, because I’m a slow reader and usually max out my renewals before finishing a book.

Other reasons I’m a card-carrying bibliophile and library patron:

* When my computer was on the fritz a few years ago, I was able to use one there.

* It has a spacious, well-lit reading room with newspapers, magazines and yes, a coffee shop.  

* There’s a local history section, a job search center and a new high-tech “laboratory” with 3D printing, sewing machines, craft tools, etc.

* It offers numerous programs for all ages — preschool stuff on weekdays, adult ed programs in the evenings and community service projects on the weekends. (It also knows how to have fun, judging from an upcoming ‘Downton Abbey’ party).

This afternoon, a cold and snowy Sunday, I went over to pick up a book — I have two out at the same time, a serious bad habit for a slow reader — and I could hear a live musical performance going on in the community room.

Bookstores need not worry. I still patronize them semi-regularly, and often donate my “used” ones to the library for its annual book sale in June. Of course, I usually attend so I can . . . buy more books. 

I realize that my library, compared to many others, has more resources and a stronger tax base to support it than many others.

I don’t always feel right about that inequity, and how I benefit from it when someone of similar interests and passions can’t — simply because they live several miles away in another tax district.

If that’s ever to change, it likely will take a political push by an elected representative who loved books as a kid and didn’t have access to a well-funded library.


About Jim McKeever

Writer, father, runner, advocate based in Central New York.
This entry was posted in American History, Irish Investigations, libraries, music, photography, writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Have you checked your wallet lately?

  1. markbialczak says:

    I am a regular at the Paine branch in Eastwood and the main library headquarters downtown, Jim. I think our county system does its best to stretch every tax dollar to serve a diverse swath of the community. And the way Friends of the Library helps raise more money with the Gifford Lecture Series that brings word renowned authors to the Civic Center has made me smile often, too. Thanks for pointing out the riches that await in the library on this snowy Syracuse Sunday. FYI I’m diving into Richard Russo’s ‘Bridge of Sighs’ from 2007, and it will be a challenge to get it done by the due date!


    • Jim McKeever says:

      Mark … One of my current titles came from your branch! Second Suns, about two eye doctors restoring sight in impoverished countries. Recommended by Gabrielle of kamalatu.org. Great read!


  2. While your branch of the Onondaga County Library sounds wonderful, my branch however is old and falling apart. I wish the system moved funds around to help all Onondaga County Libraries


  3. My father (RIP) was director of the Syracuse Public Library system – an early merger with county government to become OCPL. I love all the libraries in the area and have so many fond memories of the Carnegie Library downtown, Soule, Petit, Paine and so many others. Sometimes, I bring my laptop to the Soule and work there, with a gorgeous window seat. Thanks for this post. It reminds me to visit and check out movie titles, too. Mark – “Bridge of Sighs,” a loan from a friend, is on my nightstand. Let me know what you think!


  4. You’re absolutely correct with libraries and their importance to a community. The establishments offer so much, and they can be utilized for so many activities when our own technology has an issue.

    My grandmother lived in Solvay, so it was always easy walking a couple blocks to the library to pick up a book for a rainy weekend. I’ve always said that I lived near a library, I’d be there on a regular basis. If I move to a larger city, it will be obvious the library will be bigger and will have its own uniqueness (like so many of them do) that I’ll want to take in.

    It was a pleasure meeting you today, Jim!


  5. What an incredible library!


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