I usually make a trip to the Marietta public library every three weeks.
I usually check out between five to seven books, and if my three weeks has been a quiet one, I can get all seven books read -- if not, then I might only get three. I mostly read what I check out; rarely do I put down a book -- it has to be bad to do that. Really bad -- like Twilight bad or The Power of One bad.
*waves to Emily and Dr. P. on that last comment*
Most books I check out have been recommended by people I trust or I have read the review. :)
I always take a list of the books I want to read..... sometime ago, I started a list of suggested titles, which is now close to 3oo books long -- and I take this list and walk around the library in search of the novel... the list ever changing as I add books and cross the titles of others out.
I use the Internet from home with "my account" to renew books or put a book on reserve [you gotta love the Internet for that], but I love going to the library and just perusing "the stacks" for any book that might meet my fancy.
I don't look to see if they have the book ahead of time -- like use the online card catalog -- I like the hunt in the stacks.
*trembles with anticipation*
It's all about that... the hunt, the chase, the pursuit... that's inherent in all of us --- it's universal. It's all about chasing that "gold" I want -- ask Keats, the poet, ask Faulkner, heck, ask Shakespeare --we all like the hunt, the search, and then getting the prize. Hello? Ahab? The white whale?
Well, I do.
The library has changed exponentially in the last ten years -- and changed so much since I was a child.
When I was a kid growing up in southwest Atlanta, our library was the Stewart Lakewood branch, run by Fulton County. It was less than a 1/2 mile from my childhood home, so many a day I would walk to the library to check out books, and if it was in the summer, I would hide out in one of their hard plastic chairs to be in the air conditioning.
Plus, in the summer, Atlanta city schools sponsored a "Read 20 books" and get a ribbon in order to encourage students to read. I used to do that in the first week of the summer and would roll my eyes at those friends of mine who thought it was "too hard."
Of course, my parents expected the love the reading -- since I grew up among piles of newspaper, magazines, and books.
I used to think that tables were for books and lamps -- what the heck were you supposed to do with knick knacks, anyway?
We had no room for knick knacks.
Checking out the books then involved a stamp with the date on it -- emphatically imprinted on a card nestled in the cardboard pocket of the back cover.
In my elementary school and high school, the library used a system that the student signed the card in the back, put their teacher, or for high school, homeroom teacher's name on it, and turned it in. I used to get all kinds of chills if the person who checked out the book before me was "cool" or "good-looking." I'd search the card for the "cool" person's name. It took me a long time to understand that those folks didn't read.
Only not really.
At the public library, I used to open my books to the back cover in order to speed up the process for the librarian to wield her mighty stamp. She used to nod her head in appreciation. I felt proud to do my duty as a patron of the system.
It was quite exciting when the library went to the microfiche/picture taking for their check out system -- a hulking blue machine that took pictures of the card in the back [thus, the loss of the stamp sound and the card fill out ...*cries*] and filed it somehow under your name. It made this humming and clicking noise that I loved....I wanted to run that machine -- it was all kinds of mysterious and powerful.
I adored my home library -- a square building -- and the fiction books took up over 1/2 of the outer wall space. It's hard to know how many titles the branch actually had --- 5,o0o or 15,000 - - but it had enough titles that I read for a lot of years there and never wanted for something to read. In addition to the outer walls, there were between fifteen and twenty groups of shelves that came out from these walls also containing books.
They has a section that was totally devoted to children -- small chairs and tables -- and a "tale telling" corner where the librarian herself would read aloud books to small children on Saturday mornings. I never attended those -- don't know why -- but it could be because I learned to read at a young age -- and preferred my own voices. LOL
Stewart and Lakewood had a terrific research section. When I was in elementary school, I spent many a time there in the encyclopedia section researching "Spain" or "Montana" or "the solar system" in order to do reports and projects. Some of my friends had sets of encyclopedias at home, mostly the World Book, but my parents were too frugal and too poor to indulge in that when "the library is right around the corner." Plus, those things came out annually and were outdated quickly.
Later as a high school student, I spent many a school night researching for history or English papers, rushing to get through before the library closed at 9 or pretending to have "research" to do if it meant sharing a table with a cute boy with whom I shamelessly flirted -- and of course, meant that he and both got little done and would have to return the next night to finish the work.
A little bit of ancient history here -- but the library was a quiet place -- and this shameless flirting I did was in passing notes back in forth in the most surreptitious way -- in order to escape the glance of the vigilant librarian -- not only a woman who took her job seriously but also went to my church and knew my parents well. She would not have been above tattling on me and my behavior.
There was a lot of "shhhhhh" going on in that library, and we by and large behaved, but there were nights when more rowdy tables were kicked out of the library and their parents notified. No one wanted to be on that particular list --- and I did not want to suffer the repercussions of a phone call to my own parents.
Another perk of the library was the current magazine section -- all encased in these hard plastic covers to keep the masses from mucking them up. I never fooled with these in particular since my father subscribe to more magazines that I could ever get through: Life, Look, Newsweek, the Atlantic Monthly, Harpers....
It was in those pictorial magazines that I followed Viet Nam, JFK's assassination, the horrors of 1968, and Kent State. It was in the latter two magazines that I learned the delights of the essay and short fiction..
Man, I always get side tracked.
Today, the library is a different animal. I still love the fiction section, and the Marietta public library has a great selection, but the rest of the library is.. well, it's some kind of community center for the homeless and the out of work.
The homeless come in from the cold -- squat in a chair in the reading area and hold a book in their hand.. while they sleep. They put off some powerful aromas too --
In the study carrels, they put their heads down and snore up a storm.
Today, no lie, I passed a woman sitting in a study carrel and talking up a storm on her cell phone in the middle of the library.
Lady on phone: Yes, Uh huh. I told her she was gonna have to pay me that [expletive deleted] fifteen dollars or I was gonna bust her [expletive deleted] head. She borrowed that from me. Told me it was for her daughter's [expletive deleted] diapers. Said that as soon as she got paid, she was gonna come over and pay me back. Have I seen her? No? Do you think that [expletive deleted] ..... is coming over now? Oh no. She not telling me no more lies. When I see her, I'm gonna show her what [expletive deleted] happens when you lie to me.....
Yep.. in the library. That conversation.
You know what else -- they have self service check out like Home Depot and Kroger. I now check my books out by holding first my library card and then each book and its bar code under a red light. It lights up like night goggles... I cover my stomach just in case its radioactive.
It's spooky. It's weird. It just ain't the library that I used to know.
BTW: I got nothing against homeless people, but you know if you are out of work, you could catch up on all those books you wanna read. I mean, I'm out of work, and that's what I'm doing.
I mean, you know what I'm sayin'?
BTW: Nan? I know that now they are called media centers, but you know, out here in the real world -- they are still libraries.