Monday, April 21, 2008

Thinking about Libraries.........

I have always been a library lover. I started working in a public library when I was 14 years old (shelving books and filing index cards). I worked in public libraries for the next 10 years and even graduated from library school thinking that there would be no better life than spending all day in libraries. Because I spent many years at university I spent many years in libraries - all my best studying and writing was always accomplished in the learned atmosphere of libraries.

I still love nothing better than spending hours at a library, browsing through magazines, checking out the New Book section and roaming the shelves for all kinds of subjects. While in Wichita, I am a close walk to the main library and I like to go there quite often.

There are always problems that arise with public libraries. The "public" actually likes to use the library and often the public that uses the library are merely seeking warmth and shelter. Some libraries are trying new approaches - hiring some of the homeless that frequent the library to help with shelving and maintenance.

This article talks about what happened when the British Library's Reading Room was opened to undergraduates and anyone working on research. The article quotes Lady Antonia Fraser who had to "queue for 20 minutes to get in, in freezing weather. Then I queued to leave my coat for 20 minutes [at the compulsory check-in]. Then half an hour to get my books and another 15 minutes to get my coat. I’m told it’s due to students having access now. Why can’t they go to their university libraries?”

It appears the irritant is that many undergraduates now come to the library to relax, meet and text friends, and play on laptops, rather than to read books. “It’s become a social gathering,” Lady Antonia said. Libraries in university were social places - study places with the added feature of having your friends nearby - what a nice combination.

Did I mention that the cost for ordering books in the Wichita Public Library is 25 cents? Could there be a better bargain?


Anonymous said...

You have to pay to take books out of the library there? Here in Massachusetts it is free from any library in the state and interlibrary loan is also free

Anonymous said...

I, too, am a library lover and, like Krista, graduated from library school but I have to admit that I am not a library user. Like Krista I lived in libraries during the way too many years I spent at University and worked in them while going to school and during breaks. Maybe I am more of a book lover than a library lover. I like to own books, books I have read, many of which I hope to read again, and books I hope to read in the future. Book stores are one of my favourite places to visit. I love the smell and feel of new books and hate it when someone breaks the back of a book or turns down the corners. When I have finished reading a book it usually looks as if it has never been opened. Some might say that I haven't loved it enough but the more I enjoy a book the more I want it to retain its pristine condition.


Anonymous said...

It doesn't cost anything to borrow books here in Wichita - but if you request them online and they bring them to the main library, then they charge you 25 Vancouver it is $1.00 (Canadian) per book......


Anonymous said...

Like Julie, I love books and visit book stores as often as possible. My favorite so far is the Elliott Bay book store in Seattle. Each section looks like an expert on that topic chose the books. It has a cafe that bares close resemblance to Cafe Nervosa on Frasier which I loved. Until I get there, I visit the Sleuth of Baker street and any other book store that happens to be close at hand.
In Toronto, ordering books on-line is free. I enjoy looking for books on line and then requesting. One of my favourite messages is the one that says"the following customer has one or more books on hold at the library". Because I live about 300 yards from the local library which is next to the tennis courts life is ideal.