Thursday, November 07, 2013


I have three library books out currently. One that rides around in my backpack to read during lunch and two more sitting at home, waiting to be read. Library books, especially hardcovers, make me think of my grandparents. They were big users and supporters of public libraries. Not just for books and movies, but I can remember Gram clipping coupons from some sort of coupon sharing file. I have no idea if that sort of thing still exists. I don't tend to spend any time in the library these days.

I go online to reserve books and wait for the email to let me know they are ready for pick-up. Then I stop on my way home from work, scoot across four lanes of traffic, go directly to the hold shelf, and zip through the self-check out. I don't speak to anyone and I get in and out in under two minutes usually.

During college I worked as a work-study library assistant. At the first university I attended for one semester I worked in the basement in the microforms department: microfiche, microfilm, and oddly enough, current periodicals. I didn't spend much time with the current periodicals; mostly I filed microfilm and assisted patrons with the machines. I did not feel welcomed by the other library staff at all.

At the college I transferred to and at which I spent the last three and half years of my undergrad studies, I found myself once again working in the library. This library was much smaller and the student library assistants did everything. We re-shelved books, bound periodicals, and current periodicals. We checked books in and out. We retrieved books from the hold shelf for in-library use. We answered the phones and we trouble-shot the copy machines. I developed an aching pain in my right thumb from shelving bound periodicals, which is still evident to this day some 15 years later.

Eventually another student let me in on the secret: as older students with more seniority we could chose to work the evening shifts after all the regular library staff went home. That meant we had to sit at the main desk to handle all check-outs and phone calls, etc. It meant no more re-shelving. And hours of time to read.

When I wasn't working at the library I went there to socialize (in other words: to flirt with boys). My boys had certain tables they would always occupy. If they weren't there I would go into the quiet study room and, more often than not, take a nap. Thankfully, no one ever yelled at me for snoring.

Are you a regular library user now or in the past? What do you like best about your library? I wish mine had a drive through window!


Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

I love libraries, I get about 7 books out a month, or so, Mostly, I get out audio books, which some people don;t consider books, but they have the same content. Sometimes, I get books made of paper with pages. I go into the library and peruse the shelves, looking for somethign that catches my eye.

lanes123 said...

I've worked at 7 different libraries, and had mostly great experiences. The weirdest job was when I only worked as an assistant for a summer, and it took me about a month to realize that most of the other staff were very friendly towards each other … but not to me. Finally, one full-time staff member revealed that people rarely learned the names of the summer help, because no one ever came back the next summer. This was said without irony, as if it were strange that someone would not return to a job where 95% of the staff pretended you didn't exist.

These days I go to the library fairly frequently (a few times a week, in nice weather) and most of the staff is lovely. I take out DVDs and books, but also check out ebooks for my Kindle. That last one is done from my couch!

Unknown said...

I love libraries. We used to take weekly family trips to exchange books. I still love to go there even when I'm not picking out a book. It's my happy place.

a/k/a Nadine said...

I like that libraries are changing with the times: that some have cafes and some are no longer super quiet. All the rules and expectations used to make me very tense, so I couldn't enjoy a visit to a public library (hence my current preference for in-and-out trips). I should probably try again and see if I find them less stressful these days.