Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Ten on Tuesday: The Library
I couldn't pass this list up this week. It's the former librarian in me that called me out of my knitting cave to respond. I've worked in libraries since I was in middle school (age 11 - about the same time I learned to knit). My grandmother was a cafeteria lady at my middle school and I caught a ride with her each morning to school. Of course she had to be there at seven in the morning and school didn't start until eight thirty. I needed something to do, so my grandmother talked the librarian into letting me be an assistant rather than just hang around and be bored. At first I just shelved books, but after a few weeks the librarian realized that I was good for other things and quickly learned how to process new books, repair broken books, fix torn pages, create displays, and do various printing, laminating and binding jobs for teachers. I became their pet and learned to love the library. When I got to high school I learned that I could volunteer in the library rather than do study hall and quickly found my place back among the stacks.
In college my work study program was also in the library, thanks to my eight years of library experience through grade school. I was in heaven! And, once again, the staff found I was good for more than checking out books and so I was given a task of doing library inventory (which I barely made a dent in before changing schools, but it was fun nonetheless). At the university I got a job in the serials department and learned not just about journals and magazine binding, but also about how government documents were cataloged and shelved. That lead me to my First Real Job. Acquisitions. I got to handle each new book as it came in. I was the first in the library to touch them, feel them, smell them, and write in them. Yes; I was the one who wrote the Secret Library Code inside the books. I stamped the books with the library's name. I sent the books to be processed. I also got to handle donated books from people's estates and I also was the one who collected books that were being deleted from the shelves. Which meant I was the first ones to get my hands on withdrawn materials. Ah, it was heaven.
After I got married I moved to Oregon and got a job in cataloging and catalog transfer. It was this Big New Thing where libraries were transferring their paper card catalogs over to computer databases. And I was right there in the forefront of that excitement. We were never without work because it was the newest greatest thing. Our company was developing software and I had an input. It was fantastic and thrilling to see libraries shove everyone into the computer age. There was speculation that One Day people could sit at home with their computer and actually search for and check out books without even having to go to the library. But that would be years and years away.
When I became a Mommy, I realized that as much as I lived library work, I loved mommy work even more and so for the first time since I was a very young child I became a patron rather than a librarian. I still love the library. I ache when I hear that funding has been cut and that the public library has no acquisition funding for new books. I pay my overdue fees promptly (which was a new thing for me since when one works at a library one always has access to returning books). I'm careful with my books. And I make donations to the library when they are missing a book in a series I'm reading.
So here is my list of ten reasons why you should use your public library:
1. Free books. Can I make it any clearer? Free reading.
2. Books that were fun, but maybe not fantastic, won't clog up your limited bookshelf space.
3. You can read magazines and newspapers from all over the world. Yes; I know you can do that at home on your computer, but there is something wonderful about actually holding a newspaper.
4. Increased patronage shows the governing bodies that there is a need for the library. This means that funding is needed and keeps the libraries open.
5. Most libraries have an Inter-Library Loan department and can get you almost any book from any library in your country.
6. You can try out a book before you purchase it. This is especially true with craft, cooking and new fiction series.
7. Most libraries have Internet services that people can use if they don't have home computers.
8. Your library may even have a reading group that you can join to expand your reading interests.
9. I read an article that children are reading less these days. I blame parents for not taking their children to the library and not reading themselves. So get your kids to the library and let them read!
10. Libraries are great places to sit undisturbed for a period of time while you knit on a project or read a book, or simply watch people pass by. My library even has a walking path that is great for meditation as you wind your way around the building.
I know I am biased, but of all the places I love to go in the world it has to be the library.