Since we’re doing family holidays this week I’m not going to get very wordy with the blog, but I did want to bring up something interesting.

Libraries. Obsolete, am I right? I mean, with the Internet and such, why go through the trouble of shlepping down to borrow books, and then worry about returning them, possibly getting fines if you forget, etc. etc.? Well, that was my line of thinking, anyhow. I used to frequent libraries all the time as a kid and young gent, but by the time I finished college it was the mid-90s and the World Wide Web was starting to come into its own. Research became something just a click away, and although you can argue that even these days it’s not smart to put too much faith into things you read online, printed books are sadly no guarantee of any less bias or factual errors, regardless of the number of letters following the author’s name. And as far as fiction, well, I guess I got in the habit of buying anything I was particularly interested in so I could read it at my own pace… and there was a good amount of public domain classics again available just a click away.

Well, about twenty years after my last library card expired, here I am with one again. I had to go get a permit from a city office, and I used the city library’s parking lot to run across the street and do that. Then, out of some combination of nostalgia and guilt, I decided to actually poke my nose into the library afterwards in order to justify my occupation of one of their spaces. It wasn’t like there was an admission fee, after all… maybe just wander dusty stacks for a bit, remember what once was, and then mosey on out.

Except that was about the time I ran across their graphic novel section.

I’m not going to claim they had everything one might want, but there was a lot of good stuff on those shelves. Twenty years ago, libraries, at least any libraries I was familiar with, didn’t have something like this. It never occurred to me that that might have changed, and yet there I was, gawking at case after case stuffed with an A-Z collection. A short visit to the front desk later and I had a brand new card and some Locke & Key, Queen and Country and Bone volumes to read over the next three weeks (with an option to renew online).

Don’t get me wrong, it’s always nice to be able to own. But if you’re short on cash or shelf space or both, or want to try before you buy, it might be well worth checking into your local branch and seeing if they might be able to help scratch your comics itch for titles that aren’t available through digital channels, and in some cases might not even be in print any longer.

Best of all it’s completely legal. As was my parking that fateful day. My conscience may rest at ease on both counts.