Thursday, April 06, 2006


I love libraries. I have for as long as I can remember. I grew up in a small-ish town that had one library. As soon as I was old enough (which was much younger than what would be old enough now!), I would ride my bike down there several times a week during the summer. I loved it there. Really, really loved it. It was so quiet. Remember that? When you had to actually whisper in a library or risk being scolded by the librarian? The card catalog was actual cards that you flipped through to find what you wanted. I would fill out the pocket card and take it to the front desk where they would stamp the due date with one of those date stampers that have all the numbers and months that roll around. (not a good description, I know) I was so impressed when they got a machine they could stick the card into and, ka-chunk, have the date stamped on it automatically.

After I married, I discovered the library closest to our home and started visiting it. If they didn't have the book I wanted, I filled out a little slip of paper and put it in a box. When it was available, I would get a letter in the mail telling me it was waiting for me. One day, I asked Griff to stop and pick up a book for me. The librarian at the desk handed him some sort of modern economics book. Griff said, "I don't think this is right." One of the other librarians came up and said, "Oh, no. Rhonda doesn't read that type of book." She then went to the shelf and found the right one.

I tell you that story to make a point. I went to the library tonight. I had reserved several books online (after searching the online catalog) and received an e-mail that they were waiting for me. I went into the library and pulled my books off the alphabetically-sorted-by-name reserve shelves. I then went to the self-service check out. I put my library card in the scanner and scanned my own books. It printed out a due date slip and I left. I didn't once speak to, or even make eye contact with, a librarian.

While this way is definitely more efficient, I don't think it's better, and I've decided I don't like it. I believe we will start checking out at least some of our books with the librarian at the desk. I wonder what things are like now at my hometown library? I think I'll stop in next time I'm home.

1 comment:

Sprittibee said...

The Library over by the MET never had a self checkout. I used that one some when I was in Houston last summer. They did have the shelving of books on "hold", though. I found that a wonderful resource to save time. I always let the kids get a few books that are not on our list, though. :)