Frank Reade and Why I Love the Public Library

I consume a lot of books, whether in print form, ebooks for my Kindle reader, or audio books that I listen to at the gym or while driving to and from Denver as a way to avoid getting stressed about traffic. I’ve also been a reader for long enough that I can appreciate serendipity when I encounter it, whether it’s a fiction book that references a non-fiction work or a book mentioned on a social network.

When I was in Washington DC last week at the Dad 2.0 Summit, I had a chance to attend a splendid LEGO-sponsored “Night at the Museum” event at the Smithsonian’s amazing National Museum of American History and explored quite a few different exhibits.

Most notably, there was an exhibit of science fiction, 1780-1910 called Fantastic Worlds. Small, but darn interesting, and one thing caught my eye, a series of adventure magazines about “Frank Reade” with colorful and delightfully retro covers. Here’s one:

frank reade weekly newspaper magazine 1900

Pretty darn cool, eh? And this one’s dated August, 1903, so it predates so much technological advancement.

I was intrigued. And being a fan of the public library, when I got home, I did a quick search for Frank Reade to see if they had any back issues in their historical archive…

frank reade at the boulder public library

Ah, so they do! Better yet, it’s just sitting on the shelf at the main library. Since there’s a small satellite library across the street from my favorite coffee shop (where I spend a lot of time!) I figured why not have them transfer the book to the local branch? A free service, I submitted the hold request and 24 hours later got this email:

book ready to pick up from public library

When the branch opened at 10am, I left my laptop and gear with my ristretto latte and walked over to the NoBo Branch:

nobo north boulder branch public library

Seconds later, the book Frank Reade: Adventures in the Age of Invention by Paul Guinan and Anina Bennett was in my hands. And boy is it some fun reading with its retro vision of the future, both culturally and technologically.

Check out this two-page spread:

frank reade adventures in the age of invention

Elapsed time: maybe a day, faster than Amazon. Total cost: zero.

That’s why I continue to support the public library system. Because I really don’t want to buy all my books, just the “keepers”.

Now how about you? When was the last time you visited the public library?

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