Thursday, March 13, 2008

Loving the Library

I happened upon this library quiz-thing, and given my love of libraries and quiz-things, I just had to do it. Sadly, I had no idea that February was "Library Lovers Month" until three days into March, when I found this. Alas.

How do you plan on celebrating Library Lovers month?

Well, by doing this quiz, I suppose, since I missed the actual Library Lovers Month. Whoops!

How often do you accidentally spell library as 'libary' when you're in a hurry?

Never, I think. Let me try: Library library library library library library lobrary librayr librayr library library library. Nope, just a couple of typoes, and neither was the one specified. When I make a typo, it's almost always because in my haste I hit the keys in the wrong order, so there end up being the correct number of letters, but either an incorrect letter or two or all the correct letters in the incorrect sequence.

What is the largest amount of books you've ever had checked out at one time?

Probably around twenty or so, on a day when I'm grabbing a lot of stuff and The Wife grabs a lot of stuff and so does The Daughter. Usually it's around ten items or so.

What is the longest you've ever gone without visiting the library?

Six months or so, from roughly July 2005 to the end of that year. It just got to the point where going out with Little Quinn for a jaunt to the library was too much work, and also, I had a fairly large fine to pay at that time, and I never had the cash for it. Which leads to the next question:

What is the biggest fine you've ever had?

I don't remember the amount, but it was close to $30, after I forgot to return a couple of DVDs before we went on a trip across the country, which ended up being the last trip for 2005 until after Little Quinn died. The Buffalo and Erie County Public Library charges $2.00 a day for late DVDs, so by having two of them overdue by over a week, the fines racked up very quickly.

When you go to the library, do you plan ahead and make a list? Or do you browse?

Occasionally I'll make a mental note of a title or two, but usually I just browse. I love to go online and request titles when I know there's something specific I want; the great thing about having a large library system at my disposal is that I can request a book and have it delivered from another branch to my own local branch, where I then check it out. I always look at the New Nonfiction shelf first, and then wander the older nonfiction shelves. (I don't much go into the fiction section unless I'm looking for something specific that I think I might want to read, since my personal book-buying is almost exclusively fiction.)

Have you ever been shushed by a librarian?

I'm sure I was in school a few times, but never at the public library, where the rule seems to be for people to use normal conversational voices.

What is the worst (against-the-rules) thing you've ever done in the library?

I'm assuming this doesn't mean things like "Hey, baby, let's go up to the third floor and join the Government Documents club!" (No, I've never done that.) Truthly speaking, I can't think of anything I've ever done as a library patron that was against the rules. Now, as a library employee at the university where my father teaches, I must admit that there were times when being in the presence of all those books led to "reading on the clock", but that's most definitely the worst thing. Oh, and there was the time they had me doing some work in the A/V room all by myself, with the door shut. I found a set of tapes of historical speeches, and then I sat down and listened to several of them, all the way through. Man, that JFK delivered a heck of an Inaugural, eh? And Jimmy Carter's acceptance speech in 1980? "Hubert Horatio Hornblower! Er, Humphrey!" Wow.

What's the worst thing you've ever done to a library book?

Not returned one. When we moved from West Seneca, NY to Syracuse back in 2002, I thought I returned all the books to the West Seneca library. Not so much: I missed one, and didn't discover it until we got unpacked in Syracuse. One of the first things I did when we moved back to Buffalo (Orchard Park, current location of Casa Jaquandor) was to return that book and settle up my fines for it.

Have you ever had a "favorite" librarian?

My mother. Duh. (Wow, that was too easy.) And there's one at the current library who always comments when I have a piece of writing in the paper, which is cool.

If you could change one thing about your library it would be...

More books, obviously. More periodicals. The building itself could use some sprucing up. But by and large, my library is a terrific place. It's next to an old train station that has been restored, and it's across the street from my church. (If we're talking about the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library as a whole, though, I'd increase its budget substantially, so long as there was money to do so.)

Let me close by once again voicing my general befuddlement at people who claim to love reading and yet don't use their libraries. Limiting one's reading to the books one can afford to buy makes absolutely no sense to me, and I say that as someone who already owns more books than I'm likely to be able to read in my lifetime and who has little intention of stopping. On the flip side, a Buffalo News columnist (Charity Vogel, I think) recently wrote an article about our libraries, citing a friend of hers who had moved to Hamburg, NY from Orlando, and had to start buying books because the Hamburg library doesn't get the "newest, hottest reads" as quickly as the Orlando library had. This just struck me as terribly silly: judging one's public library by one's ability to walk in and check out the very latest by Nora Steele or Danielle Patterson or James Roberts or whomever is to miss the entire point of a public library by a huge margin.

And whenever I hear some libertarian or conservative type opine that maybe in the days of it's time to let libraries slip into the past, I want to scream. I can't think of a more misplaced set of priorities than that.

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