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?