BookLover3The popular “Downton Abbey” TV series on PBS recently ended, but I stopped mourning when I realized I can still get a “Downton Abbey” experience just by going to the Monona library.

When the house is too crowded, I can escape to the library and walk up the grand staircase with the determination of Lady Mary. I sit in a comfortable chair in front of a floor to ceiling window I never have to clean and remain uninterrupted for hours at a time.

Like Lord Grantham, I have thousands of square feet at my disposal, and there are paid staff that meticulously take care of thousands of books for me. If I can’t find what I want among all that plenty, I merely click a few buttons and a neighboring estate – er, library – kindly lends me their book and delivers it to me at no charge.

It never ceases to be a thrill to go to the library to pick up a stack of books I placed on hold. I often spend a lunch hour or Saturday afternoon doing this. With services like this, who needs Netflix?

Like the Butler Carson who won’t tolerate the thought that Lady Mary is ever in the wrong, the staff doesn’t charge me fines when I am late in returning Monona books. The $10 fine for a lost book that has been on my account for many months never gets mentioned, either. There has also been nary a raised eyebrow over the eclectic assortment of titles that I have recently checked out, from books about equine therapy, crows, Jungian psychology and golf among the mix.

It serves as a home office when our printer is out of ink, and I need to print something or make a photocopy. A malfunctioning computer or WiFi connection isn;t a source of panic, because there are several computers at the library I can use if I need to.

It’s even a makeshift day care, because you can plop your kids in the children’s section, and they will amuse themselves for an hour or two while you read or use a computer. The downstairs of Monona library doesn’t have a Mrs. Patmore and Daisy to serve up the snacks to the kids, but the vending machines make it easy to treat the kids, and there are bright new tables and chairs and even a couch.

And those times when I need an out-of-Monona experience? I go to the McFarland library, of course.

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