I am working on a keynote for a group of librarians. The theme of the conference is “Librarians on the Edge” and the focus is how librarians are shaping the future.
I’ve been really enjoying BiblioTECH by John Palfrey. The book is a manifesto for libraries with a multitude of examples of innovative online and face to face libraries. Palfrey has also recommended a variety of books and I am trying to check them out of the library. I put a hold on Library: An Unquiet History by Matthew Battles and got the message this morning that it was in.
I spent some time browsing the shelves as well and came away with some gems:
Sense and Sensiblity, Joanna Trollope’s contribution to The Austen Project
The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler
The Sandman Overture Deluxe Edition by Neil Gaiman
I’m not sure I’ll have time to read them all in the next two weeks but I can always renew them.
I did a quick search on library on this website and discovered two January entries (2011 and 2012) that resolved to use the public library more. Clearly, it was not a resolution last year since, when I logged in the other day to reserve a book, I discovered that my card had expired in 2014.
But, I’m back at it again this year: as I’ve gotten more involved in the reading groups sponsored by LibraryThing, I am discovering lots of books that aren’t on the shelf. Some may have free versions through Amazon but, mostly, I would have to pay for the digital versions. These are generally books that I won’t reread so the library seems like quite an economy. My library has a savings calculator that gives an estimate of the cost of the services you use. I think it’s a monthly calculation (I was a little confused by the number to be entered so counted each book as a “service” that I used). Including two books, a magazine (the librarian showed me the online magazine access they offered) and one interlibrary loan, my cost was $76.00. I may be able to cancel at least one magazine subscription.
Last year, I made reading my ROOTS (my own tomes) a priority and managed to read 45 books I already owned, 10 more than the goal I set at the beginning of the year. It doesn’t look like LibraryThing has a group for setting a library book goal but it doesn’t mean I can’t set my own. I’m going to start with 30 as a goal. I checked out three today, two Anne Tylers for a book challenge and the next Steve Berry Cotton Malone mystery. I know I’ll continue borrowing Berry from the library. The books are good but I really don’t need digital copies.
Here’s the ticker:
I am reading a library book! That’s right…a public library book that I will have to return in two weeks. Of course, I’ve already had to renew it once but I’m confident in my ability to finish it this time. I checked it out along with another book and a music CD when I attended a Civil War presentation held at the library. It had been so long since I had been there that I had to update my card information!
I have nothing against public libraries and, in fact, think they are one of the best institutions. During our travels in early Internet days, we often found access at libraries. I volunteered in the public library in my home town when I was a teenager, shelving books and cutting out name tags for the pre-school reading circles. Actually, I even volunteered at THIS public library during their summer reading program. And, in the days before I controlled my own money, I was a public library user.
But I’m not any more. I like owning books and being able to come to them in my own good time. I may think I want to read a book right away when I’m holding it in my hands at the library, but who knows what might happen by the time I get home. That book may have reminded me of another one that needs to be read first. And, if I really want to read a book immediately, I won’t wait to go to the library to check it out: I’ll just buy it on one of the two ereaders I now own. If it’s not available digitally, I would just as soon buy it from Amazon than drive to the library. Sad, but true. I have joined the “buy it now” generation, unable to postpone pleasure. And, even sadder? When I do buy a book, I almost never read it right away. It goes on the shelf and waits its turn, which may come sooner or later. So, I could certainly allow the library to store it for me and then go get it when it gets to the top of the list.
This year, I am going to try to become a public library user. As I clean out my books for the move to the farm, I’ll donate some to the library for their book sale. And, I certainly don’t want to buy any more analog books since I will just have to move them, so I’ll look to the library. Of course, there are plenty of unread books on my shelves but there’s something about knowing I have wider access that comforts me. I just like having books around me, endless possibilities for learning and laughing, musing and marveling.