Friday, June 16, 2017

What happened to my Library?




In the beginning:

I never actually saw a public library growing up. My first experience as a child was in school in second grade. Our teacher lectured us on library etiquette; be very quiet, don’t run, keep every book in order, don’t damage the books, be polite to the librarian. If these rules weren’t followed to the letter we could be taken back to the classroom and lose our library privileges for the week.
She then lined us in single file and marched us down the hall to the school library – that one room with shelves and shelves of books. For me it was the equivalent of walking into a palace. My imagination had always been a little wild, but this place gave it wings. I could choose any three books I liked and take them home for a week. I could close myself off from the outside world and wander through different places real and imaginary. I could spend hours with puppies or pirates, giants or gnomes. This was the most exciting thing that had happened to me thus far.
The day came when second grade ended leaving me alone, bookless, bored. The only thing to do was make up stories in my mind. But oh how I longed for those shelves of bound pages with colorful illustrations.
A miracle happened when I was in fourth grade. Our town’s first bookmobile parked in the drugstore lot just six blocks from my house. Yes, that’s how old I am. I had access to the written word all twelve months of the year. Still we were required to be quiet and respectful of the librarian and her books. The world would have surely come to an end had my library card been revoked.



Fast forward to now:

Earlier this week I walked into my local library and complete chaos. The center of the main room had been cleared to make way for rows of computer desks. There were people looking at recipes, cars, Facebook, swip-swap, but not one reading the news or any worthwhile articles. Some people were holding conversations with their neighbors while others talked on their phones. One lady stood and shouted to the librarian that she was having problems with her computer. To my astonishment the librarian shouted back that she’d be over in a minute.
A young woman followed me in with her four school aged children and told them they could each pick out a movie. Yes, a movie. They didn’t go near the books.
Another woman came in to post and hand out fliers for an up-coming event. She stopped by everyone there to tell them about it. I can’t tell you what the event was. She passed me by. Maybe that was due to the low growl that spontaneously emitted from my throat when she approached.
When I entered the next room I found a line of computers set up with games. Kids ranging from six to sixteen were loudly competing for world dominance. Behind them was a row of chairs with more kids to take their place as soon as their time was up. I imagine they spend the day switching back and forth.

One thing I didn’t see was a single person reading. I suppose the ones who grew up like me had left to the peace and quiet of their own homes. I know that’s what I did.


When was the last time you visited your library? Did you notice any changes?

9 comments:

  1. Yes, I've noticed the same changes in our library but contrary to yours quiet is still the decorum. They have a couple computer labs set up with rows of wonderful computers and classes to teach every one how to use them. A few computers are set up around the main library, but there ave comfy chairs usually filled with people reading. They have programs for young children and several story hours. The one problem that is disconcerting to me is Our libraries problems with homeless people spending their days parked in the chairs and on the floor sleeping. While this behavior is discouraged, it is a public library for everyone's use. The free Wifi brings them in, the warmth during the winter and A/C in the summer(I am amazed that they may be homeless but most have a smart phone). Any way those are the changes I notice.

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    1. It's nice that your library has classes and other programs. Ours has a story time for small children once a week during the summer - that's it. Thanks for coming by Tena.

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  2. Interesting post, Sandra. Libraries have certainly changed. Our local library also has computers and movies, etc. But they still have lots of great books. At various times I've attempted to work on research in the Library, but the tables were all filled with people using iPads, etc to take advantage of the free Wifi. Not sure how many people actually take books out. Would be interesting to find out.

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    1. Ours still has books. I take my mother to check out a stack every two weeks. The rest of the time they just collect dust. People can go to McDonalds for free wifi and a drink for a dollar. I want my peace and quiet back. Thanks for your input CB.

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  3. Our library seems to have a balance between the two, and there are separate rooms so readers aren't bothered by those who want other forms of media.

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    1. Oh, you're so lucky Jennifer. You must live in a larger town. Ours only has the two rooms - no door. Thanks for dropping by.

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  4. The one I work in is nowhere near as quiet as the one when I grew up, but--thank goodness--nowhere near as noisy as yours! :-) Summer reading is going on now, so there's almost a steady hum that comes from having kids everywhere; however, they're kids and they're reading, so I'm not going to object. We have quite a few readers from all age groups, as well as a lot of computer users.

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  5. Honestly, I don't think the kids have been taught better. Glad you could come by, Liz.

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  6. I have always been a library visitor and most of the ones around the Denver area (except the very busy main downtown branch) are pleasant, quiet places to write. But I have to admit that it saddens me when I go into the stacks to look for books there aren't many people there. They are usually all at the computers or waiting for one to come free.

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