Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Ode to my Library

Exciting colors and shapes in Oregon
At the library I feel like I'm on a shopping spree, one of those timed ones where you run around grabbing all the expensive stuff off the shelves (I never have much time at the library.)  I have this sense of intense glee: OH!! God! How LUCKY I AM!!  We're revisiting an uncomfortably intense budget lately, so the library is this place of freedom where the rules of careful selection and precise choices get suspended for about twenty minutes.  Everything, EVERYTHING! can be mine (except the current periodicals).  The only other restraint is that I have a limit of 50 at a time.  But that's where by daughter's card comes in handy.

The only drawback is when they are due, I have to make a decision: to renew or return.  This is the first of several forks in the road.  I have to face the fact that in the past four weeks I have not found time to explore the infinitely exciting topics of Voodoo OR dowsing.  What could have been more important over the past FOUR WEEKS, than learning how to mellify a corpse or what causes fireballs?  Or a novel called Everything.  (EVERYTHING!!).  And so I have to come to grips with the finiteness of time, of myself, of my life.  I must realistically assess: am I actually going to read this or do I want to make more room on my library card(s) for something else?

It's important stuff to work through (if there is an end to this work): limited time, priorities, renew, and finally, return.

Also, the library provides a safe place to leap (not literally) from topic to topic, making zero commitment.  It's not like friend hopping, dropping old ones just because something new caught your eye, or job hopping, leaving your life a pile of instability.

But the real sad moment comes when, after two renewals and 12 weeks, I MUST come to the deflating realization that no matter how dowsing intrigues me, I may never put in the time to read or learn it.  My life may never be "changed by napping."  And I may NEVER learn, really, how to manage curly hair (or is it more wavey?).  But then I remember: it's at the library and I can request/hold any time!

attempting to get both of us in one photo for once
Lest you think I am all borrow and no read, there are a certain percentage (about 10) of books I read those ones in about 1-3 days. The rest I dabble in the day before they are do. It's the ones I return the next week that grabbed my attention, that held me hostage, the caused me to take notes all night, snap at my kids, and forget to make dinner  And --thank GOD! -- it's not every book that does this or we would never eat.

Also, my libraries (I split my time between two county branches) have self-check out.  What could be funner?  As a kid, I'd sit with a stack of books on one side, stamp each on the inside cover with a block, and restack on the other side.  Then, my customers would need to return them and I'd repeat the whole process in reverse, "Oh, would you like to check these back in Mrs. McGillicuddy?  Allow me."  Remembering the hours I spent doing this, one wonders why I was not evaluated for low mental functioning.  I mean, was ANYone paying attention? --Silly question, I was a middle child, so of course not.  Anyway, these days I feel giddy as a kid playing check out with a real, beeping machine.

Also, our librarians are awesome.  One reason they're so great is that Blue is terrible to her books.  She's improving.  But there was the one she left outside at school for a WEEK, that a cat used as a toilet.  I offered it, brown and wrinkled, to the librarian, who declined to take a whiff; I guess he believed me.  Another got baptized by an open water bottle in the backpack.  And each time, they say, "Oh, this one, yeah... this one's been around a while, it was due to retire anyway, it's like ... already... gulp... six months old.  No charge."

This lady Really loved God!
Sometimes, when I really like something, I really can't hide it.  On a few occasions, chefs have come from their kitchens to chat with me, a woman who looks like Sally (the one Harry Met), or also, St. Theresa's Ecstacy, the meal is so damn good.  I wonder sometimes if it's like that at the library too.  Obviously, I'm enjoying the place, so maybe we get some free passes on book destruction.  But probably, they're just awesome to everyone, and make everyone feel like they're getting special treatment.

Some say libraries are becoming obsolete.  Others say their future is in "information technology" (Information! AS IF stories are superfluous!  Why not have a future in "story match-making".  Why not that, eh?  Why not be like Cupid.com - for people who need stories to change their lives, or to help them keep being human in this grind?!)

But I say, libraries are like a classic: anytime, anywhere, any culture, they're amazing and awesome.  God bless the effing libraries and all their shelves, ALL their physical, paper books (maybe even including the dumbass romances! That's how serious I am about this!).  God bless every damn page, may they live forever, AMEN!


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