Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Library Wonderland

When was the last time you went to the public library? For some reason, I missed about forty years, but felt the tug when a brand, shiny new regional library opened last week just down the road.

Whoooee, there have been some changes over the years, let me tell you. First of all, do you know they have videos in both VHS and DVD? (I’m just now figuring out what the initials mean.) The last time I went, video players had not even been invented. The last time I went, we were “shushed” and had to speak quietly because sound echoed around the giant racks of books. Now you can talk almost normally and all kinds of sound-deadeners keep most conversations private.

The last time I went, you had to have a flashlight to find anything on the towering racks or nearly go blind under spitting, crackly fluorescent bulbs. Now huge windows fill the room with light, supplemented with fluorescent bulbs with “natural” glow. Oh, and where did those old wood card catalogs with the hand-typed 4”x5” index cards go? There must be a huge warehouse full of them somewhere because now all you have to do is click, type a few words and hit “Search” and a new flat-screen computer monitor whisks you to your author or title or subject.

Some things never change. The kid's room is still filled with all ages of boys and girls sprawled at tables who are lost to the magical world of reading. Moms hover over smaller children and still point out Winnie or Alice or Dorothy. Now, however, computer savvy kids click, peck and point with the mouse extension of their brains faster than I could ever find the water fountain.

The chairs, aaaahhhhh, the big lounge chairs, are new and just made to sink into and read the latest newspapers from all parts of the world or browse through favorite magazines, no matter what your interests. If that doesn’t appeal to you, then do research on the computer if you get there before the older kids come in to do homework.

Even checking out a book has changed. No more cards to remove from the pocket at the back of the book where you could see who else had read your choice. No more squish, then bonk as the librarian inked the due date, stamped the card and slid it back in it’s little pocket. Now you just scan your new plastic, wallet size bar-coded card, then flip up the side of the book with it’s own bar code, scan, and you are on your way.

There are some things I miss, like the slightly musty smell that, as a kid, I thought was knowledge floating around in the air. (Obviously, if I thought that, it must not have been.) I also liked the old porcelain water fountains with the bubbly cool water. (Don’t put your mouth too close, you just don’t know who else has been there!) I miss seeing those prim ladies at the checkout desk with their lace collars and sensible shoes who peered through wire-rimmed glasses and said, “Now don’t forget to bring this back next Thursday.” Those prim librarians have been replaced by young men and women in slacks or jeans with ready smiles.

What I love about the new library is the rack of Best Sellers, all the videos, the thousands of book choices, books in paperback, the huge selection of magazines and newspapers, the “reachable” shelves, the really cool checkout, and the casual atmosphere. “Come on in and read.” Well, now that I think about it, I just love everything!

So many books, so little time.

Yep. I like the changes the forty-some years have brought. What I like best is the one thing that hasn’t changed. You can still check out a stack of books for free!

3 comments:

  1. Anonymous2:37 PM

    My sentiments exactly!!!

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    M

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