Why Doesn’t My Library Court Me?

Interior view, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh,...

Image via Wikipedia

I love my library. I’ve loved every library that I’ve used on a regular basis, including the Carnegie Library I browsed during my six week stay in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Libraries are my way to get a ‘book fix’ without spending a fortune in books. I don’t have the luxury of a close bookstore, nor even a used bookstore. I will purchase books online, but only when I really, really want or need a certain book. So the library is my only option, and like I said, I love my library.

However, there is a problem with how my library is run. I’m sure this is the same with all libraries. They are run like a government organization, which it is, and not like a private business. They don’t have to show a profit. They don’t have to increase usage. They still get funding even if the patronage drops.

Most flourishing businesses are constantly catering to their customers. They introduce new items to entice people to buy, and to return. They run a helpful operation that cares about their customers. They want your business.

Why doesn’t the library do that? When you go into a library, there are usually books displayed to entice, yet most of the time, the books are on a specific issue, or something the librarian has deemed important. For instance, this week was Dr. Seuss’ birthday, so several of his books wer displayed. I’m perfectly fine with that, but most of the time, I couldn’t care a wit for what is usually displayed. Also, most of the time, the books are not changed often enough to attract my attention.

Part of this rant stems from the fact that my librarian and the volunteers, who now run the library most of the time, don’t really care what I check out. They don’t take the time to know their patrons. Because they don’t have to show a profit, they don’t care if I take out one book or five.

Now, I have been teased as being the one who keeps the library running since I am forever ordering in new books that tickle my fancy. While I have to admit that I have brought in a fair amount of different books, I am not the one who keeps the library running. I just, uh, help.

I used to be the substitute librarian at my library. For two years I ran my one day a week, and for a brief time, I was in charge of all the functions of the library for a month. (At 21, this was somewhat scary to me.) I loved my job and one of the best parts was getting to know my patrons, learning what they liked, and being able to recommend books to them.

Even if I hadn’t read the book, I learned what genres certain people liked, and accordingly, recommended along those lines. For the record, I didn’t have much time to read during the years of working in the library. I checked out plenty, but just didn’t read that much. Go figure.

I liked a post this Christmas that posted on last minute gifts. Read it herePeg-o-Leg’s Ramblings  had it right.   What a great idea for an ad campaign for the library systems. You encourage people to ‘give’ a library book as a gift. Just picture this. You see a woman browsing the shelves, looking and looking. Finally, she finds one she likes. Her eyes are excited. She takes it to the counter and checks it out, then just before she leaves the library, she takes it to the gift wrapping station, just like Barnes and Noble has every holiday season, to be wrapped up. Of course inside is a due date, but she has the perfect gift for someone. If they don’t like it, they can return it!

Well, that was my silliness escaping. However, why don’t libraries try to court their patrons? Display a wide variety of books that are available, so it catches people’s eyes. Instead of just the new titles, how about some old ones? I mean, just the other day, I found a book that has been in my library for six years and has never been checked out. Go figure why since it is a field guide to west coast lighthouses. It’s cool! But I’ve never seen it displayed.

If libraries want people to use them for books instead of just an internet source, which my library does, then they need to have incentives for patrons to keep returning. How about a running tally of the top readers. You know, where a user name, or even the patron’s name is displayed with the amount of books they have read. Or maybe a list of patron recommendations. I don’t know.

Well, this is my own rant. And I have plenty more about my library. Hey, I may love it, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have problems.

What say you?

Signing off

~Kate

In The Stacks

I know, this is a guy, not a girl...

She sat on the floor, knees bent.  Sheltered in the back stacks of the library, in the unpopular sections, like poetry, biographies, and various literature, the scent of musty books, aged paper and ink, and time gone by, she let the atmosphere float around her.  An irregular square of light reflected on the wall above her head, its shape constantly moving from the wind tossing around the Norway maple shading the skylight that was the square.

Sounds of rustling paper, the tapping of keyboard keys, and murmured discussions sent a prickle of delight up her spine.  Goose-flesh broke out on her skin and she could feel every hair on her head tense.  She loved this feeling.  It relaxed her like nothing else.  Sometimes she would get the same tingle when someone brushed her hair.

There was a tranquility being in the library.  No one bothered her while she flipped through a book of Emily Dickinson’s poetry.  She read random lines, not really focusing on the words, but letting them roll off her form like water rolls off a duck’s back.  Noticeable, but not.  She floated in mind as she read but still consciously listened to the movement of other patrons. 

A printer  turned on and the warm, whirring motor sound made her feel like she was in a warm blanket.  Keys clicked on a keyboard and she pictured an office with secretaries typing away.  A newspaper crackled as someone shook out the pages.  She pictured an old man with white hair, his glasses sitting low on the bridge of his nose.

A couple of school girls came in, giggling and joking with each other, more loudly then they should have been.  The sound jarred her for a moment before she heard the librarian shush them.  They scurried off towards some other deep recess of the library, still giggling.  The heating system turned on and she felt the warm air blow up behind her back.  She was practically sitting on the vent in the floor.

She sat there just being a part of the library.  Hiding in the stacks.

 Okay, flash fiction time!  I think this is my new favorite thing, now that I know that I’m actually doing it.  I love the library.  I used to be a substitute librarian for two years and it was my thing.  I still go to my local library on a weekly basis, more if I have time, and I can be found sitting on the floor in the poetry section, many times.  So if you happen to see me there, ‘shush’, I’m reading and taking it all in.  Probably with the relaxed gooseflesh hair raised thing going on.

Signing off

~Kate

Showing a Little Blogging Love

Again, I’m not very inspired, so I thought I would showcase some of my favorite blogs.  These are ones I love to read and look forward to the notice in my inbox.

 

A Minute For Minute  :  This guy reblogs some of the greatest, fun pictures ever.  I love looking at them.  They are inspiring, fun, quirky.  And the comments he makes for them really make me laugh or totally agree.

 

Albert Berg’s Unsanity Files  :  What can I say about Albert Berg?  He is a crazy, post-apocalyptic writer/author who has a great sense of humor.  Spouting of some strange images that make my stomach turn, to giving some great writing advice, I’m so glad I found this guy.  Plus, through him, I’ve found some other amazing writer’s blogs.

 

The Hack Novelist  :  Now, Hack has a brilliant sense of humor.  Unfortunately, due to his daily blogging (though he’s slowed down a bit)  I have about two months of backlogged in my email.  However, he has posted some brilliant advice and as he is a current writer, I am always interested in what he has to say.

 

PhotoJaclyn Rae’s Blog  :  Need a spot of brightness?  Need to see something utterly girly?  Visit her blog.  Inspiring words, pictures and quotes seem to be her theme.  Along with anything pink, hearts, cupcakes, lace, girl, and more girl.  She reblogs some of the best girly pictures ever.  Me who has never been a huge pink fan, wants to dive right into every thing frilly when I see the pictures.  Every girl/woman should pop over to her site.

 

The Girl in the Library  :           I had to read this blog just because of the title.  A little bit of this, a bit of that, this blog is unique.  I can’t really explain it.

 

 

I hope you all will check these great blogs out. 

Signing off

~Kate

The Ultimate Personal Library

I don’t know if there is a band wagon for this, but I have just found some gorgeous photos of Neil Gaiman’s personal library from a couple blogs. Can I swoon?

"daaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyyymmmmmmmmm" via A Minute For Minute

 That statement says it all.

 

 

More pictures can be seen here at Ron Brinkmann’s blog post:

Gaiman’s Bookshelf Details

 

Another great post regarding personal libraries is Case Study: The Personal Library (a pictorial)

 

Give me a man who owns a library like this and I will be in heaven.  Just so long as I get to add my books to the collection.

Signing off

~Kate

 

Man Cave? Sure It Is, You Just Go Right Ahead And Think That

 

Man Cave? Yeah Right!  Writer's Cave is more like it!

 

Man Cave

I NEED this!  I must HAVE this.  I swear that I cannot find the right spot to write.  My room is small and cramped, and spare me the cramped writer’s image up in a dank attic, and the rest of the house is noisy.  I need a place for all my books.  The ones I research with for writing.  The ones I use as inspiration for writing.  The ones I read.  Yes, I do read.  And the light…. Oh the light in this is magnificent.  Can you just see yourself here?

Man cave my eye!  Writer’s Cave!  Now that’s more like it.

Someday, I hope to have an office, or little nook that is my little writing haven.  Something that allows me to put my typewriter on a desk *GASP* and also a place for my laptop as well.  For now I can dream, but this sure brings the dreaming right up front.  Love it love it.

And I happen to love this blog for fun photography.  A Minute For Minute

Signing off

~Kate

Moments of Weird Organization

Maybe it is the ‘librarian’ in me, but I have this thing about books, music, and movies being organized.  I was a substitute librarian for two years, ran the library for a month during reorganization, so I blame part of that, but I love for my books to be alphabetical by author, then works.   That’s for fiction.  If it’s non fiction, I want it to be by the Dewey decimal system.  And yes, I actually know where most books go by that system.  I guess the shelving books thing got ingrained in me.

Right now my books are far from being in that situation.  I’m very disappointed I don’t have the room to organize my books that way.  Right now they are grouped in weird spots.  I have the favorites shelf.  All my books that if there was a fire, those would have to go.  My copy of “The Lay of the Last Mistral” by Sir Walter Scott, because it was my great grandmother’s.  My Emilie Loring hardbacks.  My two copies of “The Sea is Blue’.  And others of course.  I have about 20 on that shelf, and it’s categorized by what is most important.  So clearly not following my ‘rules’.

Then there is the paperback shelf.  My Janet Dailey’s, Amanda Quick’s, and any other romance book that is my fluff reading.  Okay, that’s not quite true as I have half of those in a closet because the shelf isn’t large enough.  Do not start laughing anyone, I have my girl moments, thank you very much.

The Zane Gray’s are in boxes under my bed.  They should not be under my bed, they should be on a shelf.  I need shelves.

So, as you can see, just from that blip, that most of my books are not organized.  I had my most used books organized in one area by my specifications.  It was lovely. I adored it. 

Ok, my stacks are not this bad...

I ran out of room.

So I tried stacking them.  It doesn’t work.  You try getting those three large astronomy books  on the very bottom of the stack.  Yeah, it’s kind of hard.  So that system had to go as well.  Right now it’s kind of  a mixture of organized(sort of) and stacked(the non important books).

As for music, it must be by artist then title.  My family and I have a fairly large collection of music, and I am forever trying to keep it in order. My sister is notorious for putting the wrong cd in the wrong case, and in the wrong spot.  (though I should mention she has down syndrome, so I can’t get mad at her too much)  I try to keep my cd’s organized as well.  Hey, I have to be able to find them.

For movies/dvd’s I like it by genre.  I know, you would think title right?  Well, for some reason title doesn’t seem to be the right way to do it.  Disney should be with Disney.  Action with action, romance with romance, etc.  And my movies are in my section.  Yes, I have my own section.  Well, my parents aren’t as into the Jane Austen’s and British movies.  The Audrey Hepburn’s.  So I put mine in their own reserved spot.

P.S. (I used to wear heels when I worked at the library. Dressed a lot like this)

Now, relating this back to being a librarian.  I didn’t used to be that ridiculous.  Ever since being one though, I want books organized.  I still even shelve books that are out of place at the library if I see one in the wrong spot.  When I organize books for anyone else, I want it to be alphabetical or by type.  I have issues.

You would think that me liking things like this organized, my life would be.

I wish!

Signing off

~Kate

The Lure of a Good Book

books“A book is much more than a delivery vehicle for it’s contents…”

So says Allison Hoover Bartlett, author of the book ‘The Man Who Loved Books Too Much’. As well as miscellaneous excerpts from the same book below.

“Walking by a booth with an impressive selection of dust jacket art, I heard a dealer say to a passerby, “Don’t judge a book by its content!” I had read enough about book collectors before the fair to get the joke: Many collectors don’t actually read their books. At first I was surprised, but having given it some thought, it’s not so shocking. After all, much of the fondness avid readers, and certainly collectors, have for their books is related to the books’ physical bodies. As much as they are vessels for stories (and poetry, reference information, etc.), books are historical artifacts and repositories for memories—we like to recall who gave books to us, where we were when we read them, how old we were, and so on.”

“Too few people seem to realize that books have feelings,” wrote collector Eugene Field, who wrote The Love Affairs of a Bibliomaniac in 1896. “But if I know one think better than another I know this, that my books know me and love me. When of a morning I awaken I cast my eyes about my room to see ho fare my beloved treasures, and as I cry cheerily to them, ‘Good-day to you, sweet friends!’ how lovingly they beam upon me, and how glad they are that my repose has been unbroken.”

“There’s a difference between those who simply love books and those who collect them, and an experienced dealer can spot a collector in the same time it takes to asked where they’ve stashed the first edition of ‘The Hobbit’ (not likely to be sitting on open shelves).”

 

Personally, I don’t understand collecting books for just the sake of collecting or the aesthetic value. I never want to own a book that I don’t intend to read at some point. If I am going to collect, it’s not going to be for monetary value, nor will it be with pristine condition in mind. I like a book that has seen wear and tear, but can withstand the test of time. As well as I don’t want to have to worry if a page slightly tears, or a dust jacket gets a crimp in it. That being said, I treat my books as a loved one. Well okay, even loved ones get a bit of abuse. I try not to crack spines or bend pages, but a few have gotten worn.

But to own a book that is worth $$$$$ and know that it is worth that much, would make me panic. I’d be afraid to open it, touch it, lift it off the shelf. And to me, what is the point of a book if you can’t enjoy reading it. Granted, some books are very lovely to look at. And there is something appealing about a bookshelf filled with leather spines and lovely gold leaf. But again, if you don’t read it, what is the point?

Again, that all being said, reading about the world of book collecting is interesting enough in itself. And I would love to go to some antiquarian book fair, like those mentioned in this book that I am reading. To be able to smell the aged books, seeing how time has taken it’s toll, or not. Feel the smooth warmth of leather. Yes, books do feel good in your hands. But I want to read them.

All that being said, “The Man Who Loved Books Too Much” is an excellent book, and I highly recommend it even though I have yet to finish it. I am two thirds of the way through though, and I think that is enough to state an opinion.

Signing off

~Kate

 

Buying Books Vs. A Library

I have never understood people that only purchase their own books. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the wonderful feeling of holding a brand new, freshly opened book, and one that you own. It’s a wonderful feeling. A feeling of excitement. But to only buy books. What you ask am I getting at?

Libraries. I am talking about the wonderful world of a library. I have used libraries, worked in them, even run one for a brief period of time. Libraries are one of our most valuable resources. I am a weekly fixture at my little public library. I use it to the fullest, continually going to my limit of twenty items. Which I might add, is not enough. I would be much happier if I could have a larger limit, but I digress. What I am getting at is, why do some people never use a library.

Seriously, in hard economic times like we are in, why does a person spend $25 on a hardbound book they might read once, only to never again crack it open? The idea boggles my mind. Why spend $22 on a ticket and popcorn when you could be in the comfort of your own home with a movie borrowed from the library? Or how about this. Everyone is talking about being environmentally friendly. Instead of having a yearly subscription to a magazine you might read one or two articles out of, why not borrow that same volume from the library? It’s common sense.

Think about how many resources you are helping to save by using the library. Less trees are being cut down for paper. Less plastics are being used to make movies, and tapes. less electricity is being used for running computers. There are a host of reasons to use the library. And I am not what you would call a ‘green’ person, but common sense dictates that we all should use a resource like this.

It all goes back to a person I knew. This person lived in a large city with one very large, very nice, very full library. Not to mention all the other little branches that were within this city as well. This person worked 5 blocks from the large, three story library/museum. Yet he never went in. Didn’t have a library card. Didn’t use the branches that were close to his home. Oh, and this person did have plenty of time to go to the library after work. But instead, this person purchases all of his books. He had stacks of them at his home. Books he had purchased years ago and had yet to read. Books he had just gotten that even if he didn’t like them, he kept them instead of donating them to a just cause. The amount of money spent and resources wasted because he never used a library. What a waste. A complete waste. And I have yet to figure the sense in this. And this guy loved to read. I have to this day never figured out why he never got a card. Why he didn’t even go in to just look around.

I stayed with this person for six weeks and I was at those libraries at every chance I got. I would have killed for a library card to one of them. The things in these libraries were amazing.   It still urks me when I think how stubborn this guy was to never use a library and to spend so much money on something he never read.

Something to think about in times like these where we all should be a bit more frugal. Why not cut your book budget and stop off at your local library. Bring home that new best seller. Check out the latest fashion magazine. Type an email to a friend on the public computer. Help keep our libraries open and running by patronizing them. They are a wonderful economic decision.

Signing off.

~K