01 May 2010

Why wandering my local public library makes me sad

I was wandering the Coralville Public Library today because 1) it was Saturday and 2) I was looking to see if they had the Alice Munro short story collection with "The Bear Came Over the Mountain" (the basis for Sarah Polley's film Away From Her).  The library did have Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship as well as a number of oddities:
1) Six brand-new (I mean BRAND-NEW) copies of Margaret Cavendish's The Blazing World in fiction under the "n"s (that's probably better shelved as philosophy and, while I understand she was the Duchess of Newcastle, no one will really think to look under Newcastle instead of Cavendish)
2) Six brand-new (I mean BRAND-NEW) copies of Vilette (in varying editions) and brand-new Oxford editions of Anthony Trollope but only one tatty copy of Jane Eyre and a number of decrepit Mark Twain novels; wouldn't it be more beneficial to replace the crappy copies of popular books rather than acquire multiple spandy-new copies of rarely checked-out books?
3) YA fiction by authors with adult books/YA editions of adult books are shelved in the adult section, not the teen section (i.e. Francine Prose's Goldengrove and the old Great Illustrated Classics editions of Dumas)
4) Adult fiction is divided into "Mystery" and "Fiction"...that's it; the library I grew up with had "Fiction", "Mystery", "Romance", and "Science Fiction" - just personal opinion, but I like that much better than the CPL way
5) People eating/drinking in the library (this also bugs me in our store, but I remember people getting kicked out of the library when I was a kid for bringing in soda)
6) Mohawk Dude (who also likes to hang out at our store, thus he has a nickname, and smells like the Dumpster at a fish bait shop) was ensconced at a computer, listening to something on his headphones, and painting; as in paint-on-paper painting - since I know this dude has pretty much no money (because he damaged a hardcover copy of HP5 in our store and told us he was unable to pay for it), what would the library do if he spilled all over the place and ruined something?  Considering my taxes and donations help pay for all the library accoutrement I would prefer that he go paint outdoors.
The library is a completely different place from when I was a child.  It makes me sad.  I loved going to the library to browse the shelves in peace and quiet with other book lovers.  Now the library is filled with people hogging the computers to download/watch anime while eating their Subway sandwiches and talking volubly about who did what on TV last night.



  1. Oh wow, I was JUST thinking this today as I visited the Boulder Public library...where echoes of a man loudly groaning, yelling, and saying "oh yeah" repeatedly in the bathroom (ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww) wafted out to the rest of the bad-smelling, decrepit decor! Sigh.

  2. I totally commiserate with you about the public library. Several years ago I was searching the religion section for the newest Lucado book and was crouched down to select a book from the lowest shelf only to have a man stop in front of me with his pants down around his knees. As I ran for help from security I truly thought I would get help. I was told security is there to protect the books, not the patrons and it was my word against his. Even the police wanted multiple witnesses before doing anything. The peace and relaxation of the library for me is now a battlezone. I watch my back for anyone getting too close and browse Borders for new reads and order my library books online to be picked up in just a few minutes. Sad, isn't it?