I know what you think of when you think of libraries.
The card catalog.
I know what you think of because I’ve been there, folks. Thought those same thoughts, roamed there and back, and now I’m here. And I got news.
That decrepit stereotype is outdated, punks. When was the last time you were in a library?
Think hard. Maybe it was with your bros during finals week back in college. One of you was asleep in his own drool on the blandly polished, faux-oak carrell. The rest of you were playing table hockey with a piece of stale bagel left over from some poindexter’s all-nighter; the crumbs were flying up on that lax pinnie stained with beer from your all-nighter, probably spent partying on the lawn of the Ivory Tower rather than in it.
Or maybe it was more recently. You skulked in the front door, skittered past the Circulation desk, and scuttled into the Fiction section. You pulled your hoodie closer around your face, keeping your gaze down while you wandered the Dewey-ed rows. There it is. The J aisle. You turn the corner, only to be met with the glances of several other similarly hooded individuals, their faces contorted in the terror of discovery. But then you realize with cold horror: E.L. James’ 50 Shades of Grey is not shelved here. It’s in New Fiction! And here is your choice: you can either wander as a united group in search of your prize, or you can run from the library in abandon, because you secretly know that every copy has already been checked out anyway, and if you stay, you know you will inevitably have to endure the humiliating interaction you’ve been avoiding with the librarian to order it through inter-library loan.
Whatever or whenever it was, is it most likely on an infrequent basis? It seems most folks aren’t spending a great deal of time in libraries these days. I mean, eReaders, the wave of the future, the savior of mankind, are here. (If you turn up your music, you won’t hear my scream of mortification.) So the less time you have to waste walking through shelving, or dropping coins in the copy machine, or standing in line behind several old ladies renewing their Danielle Steels for the millionth time, the better!
Okay, yes: I’m biased. I love libraries. I love the smell, I love the awful books you can find, I even love the old ladies (though definitely not the Danielle Steels), and I’ll be upfront: this Roaming Librarian is setting out to convince you to use your libraries again. Because I’m convinced that you will find them fantastic even though the closest thing you might be doing to book acquisition is plugging that Kindle into … whatever you plug a Kindle into.
I’ve been to a lot of libraries, worked in quite a few, and now I’m even going so far as to study for a Master of Library and Information Science degree. Yes, did you know, you need a master’s degree to qualify for the position of librarian? So as of now I’m a mere “clerk,” or “associate,” but the most important thing you should note there is the inclusion of the word “Science.” This is science, bro. You can trust what I say.
And if you need further evidence, I also knit, sew, read a lot, drink excessive coffee (bowls, soup tureens, gallon jugs … all of these are acceptable vessels for my morning java charge-up), and (on occasion) smell old books. I do not, however, own cats, shush people, lay awake at night pondering the intricacies of Dewey, or assign any credibility to the fantastically misogynist notion that librarians are secretly sexually repressed.
If my lack in these areas dissuades you from readership, then I have nothing further to say to you than sayonara, simpleton.
Or maybe you wanna stick around, but you’re nervous about what you’ll find here. I can first tell you what you won’t find in my blog – Twilight books.
But what we can do here is chat and laugh about some books (the good, the bad, and the regrettably published), see some awesome library variations (like this micro-library in Brooklyn), and discover just how much libraries offer besides your standard hardcover.
And I’m here! I’m there! I work in two libraries, and explore many more, so I’ll be roaming around to find the coolest things going on.
Send me your suggestions, and follow me on Twitter @chelseajoywoods!
‘Till next time,
The Roaming Librarian