Monday, May 4, 2009

A Visit to the Library

It's time for a new book. This, of course, requires a visit to the library. During my grade school years, the library was a special place for me. It's where I devoured the Betsy books. It's where, when I couldn't find the last Laura Ingall's book, I finally located it (the one written by her daughter Rose. Apparently, it doesn't count as one of the set.) In college, the library handed over all its Kurt Vonneguts and Marrian Zimmer Bradleys'.
I don't go to the library much anymore, so I'm to blame (somewhat) for what I'm about to rant about. See, I'm starting my new books. My hero is a zookeeper. Yeah, I did all the Internet things, but there's something about immersing myself in a book that gives me a feel for my character.

I leave kiddo with hubby and take off for my neighborhood library (The one I help support because I always return books late and get fines). It's been awhile since I've explored the aisles. Hmmm, the study rooms have been moved. Okay. Oh, good, here are eight books. Eeek, they're heavy. Head for the check-out. Hmmm, so study rooms moved... check-out.
Oh, no!!! Checkout is now automatic. Just like I can bypass the grocery checker, I can bypass the librarian. I can interface with a scanner. NONONONONONONO.
My first library, in downtown Benson (really Omaha, Nebraska) was/is a brick building that, to me, during childhood had the most wonderful smell: the smell of books. The librarian there gave my mother her first library card so that I, age 7 and only allowed to check out I think 8 books, could check out 16: Eight on my card; eight on Mommy's card. It was the librarian there, when nothing how many books I checked out, suggested Beverly Cleary. It was a college librarian who turned me on to Kurt Vonnegut and Marian Bradley Zimmerman. And, here in Phoenix, where the libraries are not made of the grand red brick of Omaha's (I'm homesick!), it was a librarian who helped me find No Roof But Heaven.

The little machine that scans the book will never say: Oh, you're checking out James Herriot... you might also like... (And if it does, it will say it in that awful robot voice, or even worse, in that perfect Star Trek female voice) The little machine will never say: Good to see you again (And if it does, it's printed on the receipt I'll lose before I even dump the books on the passenger seat of my car).

"Sniff." I like librarians. I like them to be human. Please, get rid of the machine or at least half the machines.


Lisa Mondello said...

Aw, Pam. I don't know what it's like to be in a big city library. My home town and the town I grew up in have libraries that are tiny. The town I live in has a library that is only open certain hours and I always forget what they are. There are two computers to surf the web and the aisles are so close together I couldn't fit down them pregnant. Well, maybe not that bad. But I hear you about the librarian who greets you with a smile. My librarian displays my books proudly and tells everyone about the local author. It's kind of sad not to have that.

PamelaTracy said...

I actually know the name of my neighborhood's head librarian, but he wasn't behind the counter. Instead, a machine sat on a counter.

EllenToo said...

I don't go to the library very often any more altho I use to haunt it as a child and teenager but I can't even imagine having to deal with a machine instead of a person. How sad that is.