Separation …

July 5, 2010 § 18 Comments

We’re splitting up.  Things just aren’t working out for the two of us.
I’ve given the Public Library my best shot and the relationship is still coming up short.

True that in a relationship, there are typically “two” involved and neither party is, typically, solely to blame when things turn bad. However, I confess in my breakup with the library, it is largely my call, my decision although let it be said the Library did nothing to meet me halfway, to keep me, to try to make things right.

And so, the separation.

Allow me to explain; hear my side of the story. In an attempt to stave off any further and frequent purchases at my beloved fave bookstore, I have, over the past two months, been visiting the Library. Fortunate to have three branches in my live&work radius, I have benefitted from online book reserving, some research and, of course, borrowing, the latter being any Library’s major claim to fame.

Reportedly, you can borrow up to 99 books from the Library at any one time, as long as you aren’t taking several or many on one topic, thus sweeping the shelf clean of say, all books related to Teddy Roosevelt or fashion faux pas (two topics that indeed bedazzle this reader.)

I’d never take 99 out a time! Primarily because I couldn’t lug that many to my car nor keep track of them once home. As it is, I can end up with overdue fines sound enough to pay the Library’s electric bill. (But no, I haven’t done it in the past two months.)

However, a library card has a great resemblance to a credit card or gift card. Let’s emphasize the latter. And so over the past two months, I have been a bit unbridled in choosing books and walked out with as many as dozen at a time, with my visits being at least weekly.

Twelve books is not an unseemly number. The problem, however, lies in the two-week borrowing limit. And one or two of the 12 I might have borrowed in my “oh! look at this! Let’s see what this one’s all about!” sweep might have been 7-day loans. Because they’re new. Seven days!!!!

Yes, yes, I know you can renew books and of course it can be done on line. But the 12 books I might bring home seem to scatter: one in the living room for reading when the family is watching something in which I have no interest; one in the car, for those lunch hours where I have to leave the office and drive to the park and read on  a park bench and breathe real air; one or two by the bed, leaning against the already “sturdy” TBR stack; one or two in my upstairs office for when I’m taking a break from writing or filing; several in the den, stacked on the coffee table and oh, another one in the car that slid under the seat when I wasn’t  looking.

It’s difficult to round them all up when I’m trying to get them back to the Library on time, and here, the Library has no patience, does not offer the “give” required in any two-way relationship. Sigh.

I am grateful for the ability to renew, for the after-hours book-drop, for the selection, such as it is, for the library being open on Saturday. Still, it’s just … not… quite … enough.  Somehow.

I cannot abide, at this time,  the short loan time with no amnesty (though apparently, they offer one but just don’t publish when it will happen); nor the sometimes unsightly books offered for loan, particularly the soft covers that seem most prone to unidentified staining and wrinkling; the lack of read-and-lounge facilities including coffee and snacks (OK, that’s a silly plaint, but one I felt needed adding); and  the overall sensation of having one’s hands on a lovely book but having to give it up, ultimately, to take it back, dropping it off on the counter among dozens of others as though it had little or no meaning to me, that is, returning a beloved book.

And so I have collected up this morning the half dozen that are the result of the last library sweep where I practiced some discipline rather than “shopping” as is my wont.

I will sort through them, find something from each that I can “keep” in some way, likely my jotting lines in my journal and I will take them back and slide them into the slot and not look back.

We’ll see how this temporary serious separation goes.
And maybe in a week or two or three of absence, we can come to better terms.
Or, maybe I’ll just whittle away at my TBR stack and render it reasonable, reading, thumbing, dog-earing, annotating those that are already mine, never having been bound to a library card.

But it’s all about books, and what bookaholic chooses reasonbleness?

(to be continued…)

Tagged: , , , , , , ,

§ 18 Responses to Separation …

  • Bellezza says:

    First, I’m relieved that your break-up is “just” with the library. Secondly, do we live in the same town? House? I whole-heartedly agree with you! On every point! Except, I have a few to add, namely that the librarians in our three branch public library system are b*i*t*c*h*e*s and this time I’m not even sorry for using that word. They have terrorized me from the childhood on, and still continue to make me quake, although as an adult it’s in anger.

    Just last week I was on line trying to place a hold and a message came up saying, “There’s a problem with your card.” Of course there’s a problem with my card, when did it ever operate smoothly? Turns out it had expired. When I went to renew it, I stood in line for hours (seemingly) only to have the librarian heave a huge sigh at my request and pull out a sheaf of papers for me to sign.

    Hello! I’ve been a member of that library for 45 years! Geez…well, I could go on and on, about the fine for ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTY DOLLARS that my son had from a few overdue CD’s, but we’ll let that go. Suffice it to say, your post hit a nerve with me, girlfriend.

  • oh says:

    Dear B,
    Thank goodness I’m not the only one. Though aware that a library is a good and beautiful thing, making books available to everyone (or at least posing to), I sometimes find that the library can be a difficult place for a true booklover to make his/her way nonchalantly, blithely, without coming up short in some way.

    And what IS with some librarians, who seem loathe to give assistance and lend a book? I would love any one of the librarians I run into to be openly book savvy and comment on the books that are coming and going. Maybe they’re not allowed to add any judicious comments, glowing or otherwise about what we take out. Several seem so reluctant overall however to part with books or information. I’m not sure why. I have no idea what could be going on in a library to make them grumpy, other than the fact that there are so many books to read and it would be tough to get to them all. And I know that all branches are not created equal.

    For now, it’s detente. No library books in the house or the car (that I can see!) and several of my own to read.
    It will only be a matter of time before i head out, however, to library or bookstore, “just to look!”

    Wow. Again, I”m glad I’m not the only one dealing with the “borrow or buy” choices when it comes to books.

    You are such a wonderful, eclectic and sincere reader with wonderful book things to share, I hope you are showered with gift cards that allow shopping Amazon or at your fave bookstore!

    • Bellezza says:

      A funny addendum…today we stopped at Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, buying three. As I gave the money I say a big poster that said, “Buy three, get the fourth free.”

      “Hey,” I asked, “what about that poster?”

      “You have to ask for the fourth,” the guy said.

      “Well, I’m asking,” I said. “By the way, do you work at the public library?”

      Idiots, all of them. 😉

  • shoreacres says:

    Oh my, oh my…. dear,dear,dear….

    It was only last April I crept back into my local library, shy and ashamed it had been so long. I was the prodigal reader, coming home.

    It smelled like a library was supposed to smell. It had broad, sweeping stairs to the second floor, with a crazed coat of varnish on its mahogany rail. It had computer stations where the card catalogue used to be, but when I inquired, a nice librarian introduced me to David, one of their volunteers who helps the awkward and ignorant.

    Another volunteer noticed me gazing blankly around, and guided me to the right section to find my first choice in books. When I couldn’t find Cajun music in the CDS, a librarian looked up the numbers on her computer and showed me how to do it.

    I brought home three books, and got a nice email two days before they were due, and when I tried to renew them online and had forgotten my password, it was easy as pie to get it back and the lady who gave me my password renewed the books, too.

    I never got a single one read, but that was ok. I was just happy to go back to the library again, and sit on of their big, overstuffed sofas and read the paper.

    Isn’t it funny? You’re in the midst of a trial separation and I’m saying, “Where have you been all my life?” It may have been those three little words: inter-library loan!

    • oh says:

      Perhaps it’s all location, location, location. I loved the library in my hometown growing up. I loved the library in Orlando, FL and the one in Redondo Beach, Cali. I’m sure I’ll find another one somewhere; there are six in the county in which I live, and glad to see the three that I visit are thriving. Constantly busy. Like Old Navy during a dollar sale. And there are very few reading tables or quiet areas. Ah, well, I’m patient. As I mentioned, I’ll saw away at my TBR stack! And maybe, just maybe, get through GONE WITH THE WIND, at last!

  • seachanges says:

    Mmmm yes, I rejoined a library not so long ago, but there is definitey a kind of shabbiness about it, the reminders for one. Who wants to know? I just want to read the book when I’m ready for it, now when the library tells me to finish it. Mind you, it gives me a nice lunch time bycicle ride once in a while (to return all the books I have not read yet and to be honest cannot be bothered with anymore now that I know they want them back). So I more often than not simply hit the ‘buy’ button on Amazone. So lovely – I can read them whenever I want and meanwhile I can admire the pile on my bookshelf, knowing I don’t have to go on that bycicle ride. So glad that this is all your separattion is about…. Love your new establishment though. I’ve been away too long – must do some more catching up!

    • oh says:

      Yay, Sea! So good to hear from you. I’m am totally with you on the Amazon thing. And a book on the shelf, that can be admired, brings a whole other dimension to the reading thing.

  • Becca says:

    Oh, I’m so sorry to hear this! My library and I are bonded at the hip and the heart, and have been ever since I first walked in at the age of three and thought I’d died and gone to heaven.

    A few years ago, my community built a gorgeous new facility, just a nice bike ride away from my house. Now I can call up my books online and they’re waiting for me when I pedal up there. Because I’ve lived in this town all my life, I know all the librarians (and they certainly know me!)

    I wish you and your library could have this kind of relationship. Makes me sad for both of you ;(

    • oh says:

      Dear Becca, I know! you are so lucky to have your hometown library. I have read several entries where you allude to it and it sounds lovely. Like it should. And comfortable and friendly and smart and all the things I attribute to a library.
      Perhaps I’ll get used to the suburban branches that twirl and swirl with commotion and the books I’m after don’t seem to be there.
      In the meantime, it’s so good to hear about yours and all the riches within.

  • Heather says:

    I am shocked and saddened to hear your news. Without taking sides, it seems as if you library could be doing more to enhance this relationship. Three week checkouts would be nice as well as not having to ever renew your card (I am so lucky to have the Denver Public Library, it’s fantastic). But I do think that you have fallen victim to the “my eyes are bigger than my reading capacity” syndrome. It’s okay, it happens to all of us, even with the best of libraries.

    Hopefull this will not be a permanant thing and a little “break” is all you’ll need.

    • oh says:

      Ah, well, I’ll give the library the summer off though I’m skeptical about any changes in the rules. The branches near me are reportedly the busiest in the entire County of more than a million people. Having used libraries in seven different states, I would say that surprisingly, Florida had one of the best ones I’ve ever been lucky enough to be a member of.

  • Ditto that thought!

    I have the same problem, lugging dozens of books home that I will never have time to read within 2 weeks, and incurring multiple fines because I am determined to return at least half of them finished. Now that my budget has loosened its grip on my practicality somewhat, I may return to some of my old bookstore haunts. I won’t give up on the library but… 2 weeks just isn’t gonna do it for me.

  • oh says:

    Hi, LL! yup, that’s the main problem – that two-week limit the library imposes. I realize what a cool system it is to begin with and how lucky we are to have them, but somehow I just can’t conform to the two week thing – yes, even if I took out only one book! I’ve tried it. Even that one book ends up overdue.
    So, here’s to bookstores, even just for browsing!!!! (and some coffee!)

  • Arti says:

    oh, you’ve really hit on a hot topic… our library. This is how I use it: as a pre-shopping guide. I’d browse the books I’d intended to own, bring them home and read to screen the ones I should actually spend my money on. But of course, if they are new and popular titles, you might as well go out and buy them because you could be waiting for years. An example: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, the Swedish phenom… well my place on hold is 716.

    And we have lots of DVD’s so that sure beats renting. As for the fines, I’m afraid they’re usually the ones that I’ve never read and totally forgotten about, and as you’ve described, don’t know where to find them. But overall, I’ve to say I’m a frequent library user, and have got my money’s worth (I’ve to pay $12 annual fee for my card.) As a bookaholic, of course, nothing replaces the bookstore… not even Amazon.

  • Becs says:

    You would love the Princeton (NJ) library. Even the East Brunswick library is excellent. My home town library is suffering under the tyranny of a megalomaniac mayor.

    The library to me is like walking into a bakery and being told I can take whatever I want…I just have to eat it all by the end of the day. I’m so dazzled at the free! books, I grab. And then I ask myself – do I seriously think I can finish six books in two weeks? The answer to that is a big no. I can manage two recorded books in two weeks, but my former rate of a book a week is now drastically reduced.

    And oh, do I hear you about the crazy library fines!

  • jeanie says:

    Oh, yes. The return thing. The overdue thing. I gave up on the PubLib too — partly because I love to buy, used or new. Partly the location. And partly the fines, the leftovers, the things you get with fine intentions and then the crises come up and yes, you can take it back or maybe renew but, oh, the trouble!

    I suspect a trial separation is always a good thing — you can always return to it when you’re ready!

  • Jeannine says:

    You make me laugh oh! I too have the love/hate library thing. I leave for all the reasons you describe, and am always lured back.
    It starts off well every single time. The books are back in time, I feel virtuous and literary. But it always ends badly. By my third or fourth withdrawal the overdue days start accumulating. I end up feeling resentful and hard done by. It’s all over until the next time. . . I guess I am allowed one toxic relationship.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

What’s this?

You are currently reading Separation … at This Writing Life ....


%d bloggers like this: