I use this title in two senses. Firstly, I used to really like our local library. It was close. The people were friendly. There were good books. The second sense is a sarcastic sense because you are about to find out it isn’t so nice anymore.
What isn’t nice about it?
1) They have so many people working there that it isn’t like coming in to a friendly and familiar face. Often it is someone I don’t know at all. Sometimes they are friendly, and other times they aren’t. Maybe it is just because they are busy. Or the guilt of knowing they are working for “The State.”
2) I have read all their decent books now. Their half-way decent and maybe wholesome books have been replaced by Harry Potter and all of that junk. And if there’s a book I particularly want, they are bound not to have it. It is like a law of the universe. I want a book, therefore they will not have that book. I’ll have to write up an inter-library loan request slip for the book. Sometimes it will go through. Sometimes I’ll get the book. Sometimes I’ll get it the next week. Or sometimes it will take a month, or two. One time I was doing some studying on WWII and requested a book. It didn’t come, and I eventually forgot about. Months and months later I was studying ancient Rome and the library called. “Do you still want this book on the battles of WWII?” “Uh, no thanks. Too late now.” So that’s frustrating. Very frustrating. And on a related note, they have very few good movies, and that’s pretty much all we use the library for now. We’ve nearly exhausted their supply of good movies. Their DVD collection keeps growing, but the good movie collection keeps shrinking. Doesn’t anyone at this library have any taste?
3) The library is slowly becoming less efficient. It used to be that I could go there and get color copies. As we’re pretty much out in the middle of nowhere (at least when it comes to office stores and color printers) I liked that. Sure, I had to pay for it, but when I needed a last-minute poster for an event or something, I knew I could go there. Now all they have is black and white. Several people (including me) have had a difficult experience with the library. I returned a book (very thick bright colored book, couldn’t miss it) and then got a letter saying that I needed to return the book. I explained that I knew I had returned it, but I got another letter. We went to the library and searched the shelves in case it was misplaced. No avail. We (my mom and I) go to the library office to tell them that no, we aren’t going to pay for this book because we did return it. Btw, isn’t it their job to prove that we’re guilty of not returning it? Anyways, so the person in charge (who signed the letters to me) was there and I spoke to them. They turned around, looked up on a shelf (this is in their back office) and says, “is that the book?” pointing to a large bright colored volume which did turn out to be the book. Now, why didn’t they know it was there? Or think to look for it there? I know, I know, people make mistakes. That’s okay. I’m allowing for that. But I’ve heard from several people in our district who have had the same problem.
Also, they’ve apparently had trouble with young people there because they had to post the rules of behavior for while in the library. They don’t allow anyone under 18 to check out any movies without their parent being present and giving permission. They make you show your library card (no memorizing the number anymore), I’m assuming so they make sure you’re really who you say you are. Come on, this is a little-bitty town that has one block for a downtown, two gas stations, a couple fastfood restaurants and some odds ‘n’ ends places. Since when did they need to do all this? Is it just another signal that society is digressing?
So, now what? What are we to do?
Well, as I lectured my sisters this morning, we should not be surprised at the condition of the library. It is, after all, part of the government. The government can’t be efficient. Even if the government were full of saints (rather an oxymoron, since when were saints thieves?) it would still be inefficient. It is government. So I’m not getting after this one library or blaming it on the people in charge of the library. It is just what we should expect from this institution which has such a monopoly. And that’s what it comes down to. A monopoly. No private company would dare act like this library for fear another company would “steal” all their customers. A private company would try to cater to a large customer base. “You like Harry Potter? This is the place for you. Jane Austen fans? We’ve got every book and movie related to Jane Austen here. Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie people? You’ll love our library.” Take away the state-sponsored monopoly and our little library would soon be gone. It would be swallowed up by more efficient companies that cater to the people instead of running over them.
Libraries and books are very dear to my heart, so I like thinking about what a private library would be like. Imagine the cozy aura of Barnes and Nobles, minus the overpriced and leftist books. Coffee. Snacks. My favorite books. Good rates. Yum.