Thursday, January 22, 2009

Missing "The Restricted Section"

This is the library for the area where we live now. The photo doesn't do it justice. It has a lodge feel, and it's landscaped like a little woodland. The main walkway goes through a stand of young birches on the right and a pond with native grasses on the left. At least, I think there's a pond. I haven't seen it without snow yet.

I had hoped to take pictures inside today, but it was full of patrons and I didn't want to get kicked out. Who knew there would be so many people there on a Thursday afternoon.

Anyway, it is more like a bookstore than a library. There is a central cafe, with coffee and snack machines and really cool tables with famous quotations lettered around the edges. There is even a player piano, of all things, in the center.

Further back is a free-standing stone fireplace with cozy chairs and a bank of windows overlooking another garden. The kids' area has stylized wooden trees that branch out as they approach the ceiling and lots of soft floor pillows to curl up in.

It's a beautiful, enticing place to be, but ... none of the shelves are over five feet tall and all the books are new, with heavy emphasis on how-to's and best sellers. I find this disturbing. There are no quiet, secluded stacks, no old favorites, no obscure authors, no mysterious tomes in leather bindings. There's no library-book smell, either.

And get this: You check yourself out by placing your own selections on a scanner, and when you're done you get a paper receipt for the lot of them. There's no librarian to chat with about the books you've chosen or to recommend similar authors, no stamping of the little card that tells you when each book is due. All you get is robotic chimes and an onscreen thank-you.

Don't get me wrong, I do love the place. But the experience is like eating unscented, salt-free popcorn out of a plastic bag. It's fun, colorful, and efficient, but it lacks the essence of history, awe, and humanity that should dwell in the very air of a library.

Of course, I still miss the card catalogue, too. Maybe I'm just getting old.


Anonymous said...

I remember the excitement of checking books out of the library with my very own library card..I loved to kids still read?

spookydragonfly said...

It does sound like a beautiful library with the setting. I'd have to agree with you on the indoor atmosphere, though. No librarian, hmmm?? Something is wrong there!

sallyacious said...

That sounds like a lovely but slightly inhuman place. Librarians are AWESOME people, they fight for free speech like nobody else, and they really love what they do. To have a barrista but not a librarian seems like the priorities are a bit off.

MyMaracas said...

Well, wait guys ... there are librarians around, they just aren't at the checkout desk, which is where I always interacted with them at other libraries. It's just that it would be weird to go over to a work station, interrupt whatever they're doing, and try to strike up a conversation about books.

But I'm glad to see somebody besides me "gets" the plastic feel of the place. It's shiny and sad at the same time.

sallyacious said...

Oh, but they WANT you to talk to them at their desks. That's why they're in the mail reading area and not tucked into an office in another room. The work they're doing at these desks keeps them busy while they're waiting for people to talk to them.

My verification word is spoerm. I'm not sure how I feel about that.

MindyLew said...

It sounds like when you return to your home town and new highways have gone through and the old hangout places have all been replaced with mini-malls. I totally understand!!

I have now posted my view from the top of the stairs - please stop by and check it out!!!

My word verification is "boned"
what is up with that? LOL

MyMaracas said...

Sally -- They do? Good to know, though I'd still feel funny walking up, showing them a book, and asking if they've read it. It just seemed natural when they were checking me out, but odd to do out of the blue. I'll try striking up some kind of conversation next time and see how it goes. ("Spoerm"?? LOL)

Hello, MindyLew, nice to meet you! I will definitely stop by and see your place. Sorry you got "boned."