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Using a digital library like a real library

I like books. My parents were wise enough to encourage me to read anything, including comic books, when I was a kid. My teachers also encouraged me to read. It's an addiction that could have gotten very expensive for me, but very early in life I discovered a virtually unlimited source of free books - libraries.

The first library that I remember was in the little town where my grandma lived. I didn't need a library card, I just needed to tell them my grandma's name. I may or may not have been tall enough to reach up onto the counter, but I still remember being amazed at the concept of a library. They gave you books - for free - and when you were finished reading them, they stored them for the next time.

Over the years, I bought a few books, but mostly I stored my books at the library. This is how it worked - libraries would store my books, and when I wasn't reading them, other people could read them. They were alphabetized on shelves, or arranged by a numbering system that I understood. So if I wanted to read a book by Jules Verne, I could go over to the *Vs* and get it. If I wanted a book about Trilobites, I would look it up in a card catalog, write down the number, and go get it. As a kid, I could hardly believe that such a system existed. And even now, as a grownup, I am still astonished that so many people go to so much trouble to organize and store books for me. And all they ever asked of me was to whisper when I was in the library. I can do that.

A digital library is just the same as a real library. I can check out books for free, read them, and return them when I am finished. If I want to read a particular book again, the library will store it and index it so that I can find it again quickly. If that particular book is checked out, I will find another one. There are thousands!

It still amazes me.