Public Library 101

Being underemployed means that, yes, I have a lot of free time. Most of which is split between two places in town: Nature’s Grocer (this place is everything) and the public library.

In the years I was in Boston, the Rockville Public Library was beautifully redone. And bravo to whomever coordinated the endeavor, especially since the place really needed some love. Now I very much enjoy spending time there. Although, I’m not thrilled with the book selection; I’ve had to ILL quite a few books (a service which should never be on the budget chopping block). But I understand that, when it comes to ordering books for the collection, you have to make choices and you have to make sacrifices. There is only so much space and so much money.

I’ve spent a fair amount of time in libraries, having worked at the Warehouse Point library for a number of years. And, fairly universally, I have a few library pet peeves. For instance, why bother even wearing headphones if your music is going to be so loud that I can hear it from across the room? Or why certain librarians feel the need to talk so loudly. Your office area isn’t soundproof. Then there are the books themselves.

You know that scene in the Sex and the City movie when Carrie and Big are in bed and Carrie sniffs the library book?


That one? First of all, I don’t believe that Carrie Bradshaw even has a library book because, frankly, she’s the kind of girl who probably finds public bus travel icky (remember the episode with the Hampton Jitney? Or the bus home from Atlantic City?) and has never spent time with any book that wasn’t one of her own.

Rory Gilmore, on the other hand, I totally believe spends lots of time smelling library books.


But no! Gross! Sorry. I’m not a germaphobe, but I am not sticking my nose in a library book. Are you kidding me? Ok, ‘mmmmmmmmm book smell.’ But I don’t need to get my face that close to enjoy it.

I was working at the Warehouse Point library when Fifty Shades of Grey came out, and got a little grossed out every time someone returned it. It’s not that it came back in poor condition, I just didn’t know, nor did I want to know, where it had been. And I feel that way with every library book, really. I know the majority of people who take books out are normal and treat the books respectfully and aren’t sneezing on them or dropping them in the toilet. But, still, sometimes I twinge just a little when I take a book out. (The best part of being a librarian was that I could take the new releases home before anyone else. Mwahahahahaha.) The paperbacks are the worst.

Inevitably, books degrade (incidentally, that’s what makes them smell so great). They’ve all had small mishaps, torn pages, or been dog-eared one too many times (WHY would you do that to a library book? It’s not yours! There’s a thing called a bookmark! Your library probably has plenty!). But paperbacks seem to get the worst of it. They’ve been shoved in bags and brought to the beach and held with grimy hands. Every time I request a book from another library, I pray it isn’t a paperback. (I’ve been told there’s a way to tell if it’s a paperback or not. Something with the ISBN number? Nooooooo I can’t tell from the little picture because it’s the same regardless of the printing or edition.) I know. It’s not the end of the world if I get a paperback book, and I’ll still check it out and read it. I just need to be especially carefully when I toss it into my own bag and not think about how it came to be so worn and/or discolored.

Fortunately, most of the books I’ve gotten recently have been hardcover or barely-handled paperbacks (goes to show the kind of books I read. . .). I just don’t understand why libraries even buy paperbacks. They get wrecked faster and libraries have to replace them sooner (if at all). (I’m sure there are plenty of legitimate reasons, e.g. cost or availability.) And I know I shouldn’t complain; the library is providing a valuable public service. But, sometimes, I want to show up at the library in gloves.


That wouldn’t be weird, right?


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