LA Public Library, photo courtesy of Christian Koons's phone

This past weekend I went to the LA Public Library for the first time. The few times I have walked past it before (wide-eyed and drooling), it has been closed. But just the building itself is amazing: it has stone busts of the great writers on each side, a mosaic dome, and the famous “torch of knowledge” at the very top. And the inside was not disappointing. In fact, it is way bigger on the inside than it looks. I didn’t explore much on Saturday, but the library did provide an excellent location for reviewing submissions to Biola’s literary magazine (we just finished selecting what goes in to this spring’s issue… exciting!). I hope to go back and explore one day soon, because libraries are probably my favorite indoor spaces in the world.

I feel incredibly lucky that, with the rise of the library, my love affair (with books…and the occasional librarian) is one of the most inexpensive and accessible ones you can have. It’s not like shoe-lovers can just go choose from thousands of shoes and freely borrow any pair. Or since that example is gross, it’s not like food lovers can just walk into a building and try any food they like without paying. LIBRARIES ARE INCREDIBLE! (I know, I know, logically speaking, neither of my examples really make sense, but libraries just feel too good to be true). Walking into a library reminds me of the feeling I get when I’m registering for classes…TOO.MANY.GOOD.CHOICES. Except then I remember that my education is costing thousands of dollars, and libraries are free! Plus, libraries don’t kick you out after 4 years! (Yes, I am one of those dorks who wants to go to grad school for the rest of her life.)

Though I have not yet gotten the privilege to work in a library, it is not for lack of effort. Granted, I have only really applied to work at two, but still. I’ve even been so desperate as to “borrow” a friend’s employee identification badge and shelve books for a half hour…it was just as great as I imagined.

When I was hired by Barnes & Noble the summer after I graduated high school, I thought I had finally gotten my big book-shelving break, but no. I worked at the café. Though that wasn’t the worst job in the world (I got all the whipped cream I could eat), I never did reach the promised land: the book side. And to rub salt in the wound, literally two weeks before I was set to leave for my 6-month trip to England, my manager asked if I wanted to be trained for the book side. For a second, I actually thought about not getting on my flight to England.

(But really, I probably had overly romantic views of what shelving books at Barnes & Noble would be like…I’m pretty sure our Twilight kiosk was the only area that needed constant re-stocking. [This was right at the height of the Twilight craze. And don’t think I escaped it working in the café…my hands were dyed red from strawberry-flavored vampire blood for weeks after our New Moon release party.])

But going to England proved to be worth it, because that was where I came across this little (HA) place in Oxford:

The Bodleian Library. What can I say, it was like a dream. (Sorry for the poor quality photo…I was too star-struck to care about composition). The Bodleian is Oxford University’s main research library, and my favorite library in the world. One of the coolest parts of my visit was seeing the “Lamson tube system” in action…our tour guide requested a book from the New Bodleian building across the street, and it was sent within minutes via an underground tube system! I just now looked it up because I had forgotten the name, and Wikipedia (quality research, I know) informed me that the tube system, which had been around since the 1940s, was turned off just two months after I visited, and then shut down permanently in August 2010. I blame the Kindle.