When I was five, I became the youngest person in my town to ever have had my own library card. I’d been reading for a full year, and went through books so quickly that MamaRubi’s quota was being fully used up by my need for a regular fix. We lived close enough to the library to walk on nice days, and we went twice a week. Walking home, I’d hug my pile of books and inhale that wonderful smell. I still love it.

Once I started earning my own money in high school, I began buying books, and went to the library less often, though I liked to study there — or, mejor dicho, pretend to study there while I flirted with a boy from the soccer team. During my college years in Boston, I discovered the joys of used book stores (oh, the late, much lamented Avenue Victor Hugo on Newbury Street!) and added to my collection with wanton book lust.

But the wisdom of age and severely limited shelf space have brought me full circle. I try to adhere to a policy of only buying books that I need for my coaching business. Literature, I borrow.

Our state has a top-notch online interlibrary loan catalogue, which means I can keep the NY Times Book Review, the New York Review of Books, and other sources open in one window while I search for and request books on my local library’s home page on the other. When something I’ve ordered comes in, I get an email and go pick it up. Though I don’t have an ereader yet, I’m looking forward to being able to download ebooks, and I’m going to suspend my Audible account next month (I need a second credit to get a book I’ve wanted, and that’s it) after which point I’ll download audio books to listen to during the commute. The Netflix subscription is also getting the axe, and I’ll go back to taking DVDs out of the library, also via the online search. I tell you, it makes a geeky book-loving film buff vibrate with joy.

I also love that the nearest physical library to me is such a humming, hopping place. It doesn’t matter what time of day I visit — there are always people working away in the carrels, surfing the intertubes in the computer room, reading — maybe napping just a little — in the seriously comfy chairs, doing their homework on the huge blonde oak tables, and whooping it up (quietly, natch) in the children’s section. I often see a young man there with his developmentally disabled brother, picking out a movie for their Friday night together. In the cold weather, folks who would otherwise be on the street have a place of warmth, peace, and quiet — and because they are generally respectful, they are welcomed. It’s a perfect example of a community resource that is used by every sect and strata of the community it serves. It’s my kind of joint.

And the books smell just as intoxiating as they did when I was five.