Jessica Day George

Monday, February 5, 2007

The Library Game

There is a library here in the Salt Lake Vally which is very, very neat-looking on the outside. I am not from Utah, but my grandparents moved here when I was little, and this library is not far from their house. I remember when it was built: it was new and shiny and I was very jealous. My library back home was quite small, and I frequently had to have books transferred in from other libraries because our library would have books 1 and 3 of a series, but not book 2, and other such irritations. I used to dream of the day when I would live in a place with a big, pretty library like the one by my grandparents' house. Then I grew up and got married, and after a while we ended up in Utah, within easy distance of that library. Elation! I went to it, marching in with pride, and went up and down the shelves with a list of books I wanted in hand. Nothing. What? Yep. This library, this big, pretty library, had 1 of the 10 books I was looking for. These were not odd books, not rare or foreign or otherwise hard to find. Yet they were not there. And thus a kind of game developed. I would go the library with a list of books, and emerge some time later, sweaty and annoyed, with at least one of the books from my list. Possibly other items would be found, but I generally refused to leave until somehow, somewhere, I located something from the list. People told me to go to another local library, which was older but had more books. They told me to put things on hold, or request them from other libraries, but I shook them off. This was something I HAD to do. This was the library of my dreams, and even though more money had been spent on construction than on purchasing books for it, I was going to go there and use it as nature intended! Then I had a baby, and could no longer play the library game, and I started to put things on hold, or go to the larger library just a little ways up the road. The library game, which I had enjoyed in a grim, strange way, was over. We moved across the valley, and I was pleased to see that our new library was in fact, new to everyone. And shiny. And pretty. With cool furniture that looks like big padded books. I steeled myself to play the library game again: my son is older, he enjoys playing on the padded furniture, I could do it! And then the first time I tried the game, to my horror, I found every book on the list. And more. With a thrill of excitement, but also a little ping of disappointment, I have discovered that at last I am living near the library of my dreams. It's big, it's pretty, and it's just chock full of books. As, I suppose, a library should be.

1 comment:

Nikki said...

Ever since having a toddler, using the HOLD feature online has become a library-user dream come true. I think of a book I want, sign on to the website, tell them I want it, and by the time Saturday rolls around I walk into the library and they have every book I want waiting on one shelf WITH MY NAME ON IT! So I throw my stash in a bag and spend the library time helping my two-year-old find some board books. It's marvelous.