I got lost getting to work yesterday. It was my first ever shift at this particular branch and even though I gave myself an hour to get there, I found myself dismally lost, rushing through the shopping mall where the library is located. I walked into 4 shops to asked staff for directions and they all were surprised and had no idea that there was a library in the mall. I asked 2 separate people sitting reading (my thought being that “hey -they read. They’ll know where the library is”) and they too were surprised and did not know of the library’s existence. At this point I was not only stressed but I was also despairing of the kind of people that go to a jam packed mall (it had airconditioning on a 38C/100.5F day). I called my colleagues who were very understanding and suggested I asked for directions to McDonalds which is right next to the library. I turned to the person walking past me, asked for where the Maccas was, and of course, they knew. Not even a few minutes later I was at work. Flustered due to the heat and my run around but also saddened by the lack of people who were even aware of the library’s existence.
I can’t really blame the people walking in the mall. For such an important institution (well, important to some of the population), libraries rarely have advertising budgets for their whole services. Most libraries do a fair job in promoting events and in marketing aspects of their services but as a whole, libraries don’t have some big blockbuster ad campaign on buses, in the media etc. How can they, if you look towards the dystopian future of libraries in England where 441 libraries have been closed in the last 5 years with another 149 earmarked for closure, I think librarians everywhere are squeamish in looking over their shoulder and spending money on services and collections that their patrons need rather than on some expensive ad campaign.
Once I found the library, my lovely colleagues told me that EVERYONE’s first shift at that branch results in a stressed out Lost episode. And then, I got to do my favourite thing – a first shift at a library explore! I have worked at this particular library network for over two years and in this time I have browsed the catalogue many times, reserving and transferring materials from this new (to me) branch many times. But, as many digital information designers will let you know, there is a keen difference in the way that we search for books on the shelves and books in a physical library.
Serendipity is a heady guide, the physical experience of spinning carrels, choosing books from displays, balancing books in my hands feeling their weight and ease of page turning (yes – this is an important consideration and the reason that I rarely read doorstop novels) or just purely walking the fiction line from A-J around the corner to K-P and so on. I have discovered so many delightful reads through this browsing of shelves that no catalogue interface has yet been able to recreate this feeling for me in the digital environment. I love flicking through the back pages (to this day I cannot understand why I can’t preview an ebook’s ending – soooo many lost sales due to not giving me this most important function) to the front pages and to the middle pages. This library is not a
n abhorrent genre library but one that has the alphabet as its “ordering principle”, which Catherine Sheldrick Ross [library link] describes this arrangement as having “the serendipity of arbitrariness”. It is no wonder that ebook sales have plateaued and print sales are cautiously optimistic. I think it will be a long time before we get haptic experiences through the internet so in the meantime I get to revert to my 20th century self and let a book jump off the shelves at me.
Having worked the returns chute to shelving books for my shift, I ended up leaving the branch with 11 loans! ELEVEN books added to my already burgeoning TBR. Those 11 were added to the previous 18 books I already have on loan. To add to this number, I have an additional 20+ books that I own that I need to get through. This makes me both terrified and happy.
Some of the items I borrowed:
Audiobook narrated by Juliet Stevenson (of the ugly sobbing in Truly, Madly, Deeply fame).
I have never read Northanger Abbey however, my gorgeous author friend Rachel Bailey introduced me to the film of the same name during a chicks weekend at her place several years ago where we watched all things dedicated to Jane Austen. As I had a one hour drive to get home from the branch I was working in and after taking 20 minutes Seinfeld style to find my car in the shopping mall, I popped the CD into my player in the car (Old Skool audiobook!) and took off. The narration is absolutely superb, with wry inflection and a deep understanding of the text, however, I am not a good audiobook listener as I drift off, imagining so many other things in the world so I kept having to skip back to relisten to the sections I missed. Also, drifting off when one is driving is not a good thing so to allay your fears, I was drifting off audiobook concentration wise as I was focusing on my driving. As I have said many times, I am not a multitasker. I am a tasker. I can’t drive AND listen. In the end, the disk itself took care of my agitated flow of listening. The CD was damaged and had skips and scratches – that is the way of public assets being in constant rotation. I stopped listening 50 minutes into my drive with the knowledge that I will one day download an eaudio version to listen to. Perhaps during a flight where someone else is doing the driving.
Can I count the many many ways that I love, adore, delight in all picture books Blabey? This is his latest release and it is soooo cute that I would even hug the echidna. Because really, this book is all about awkward hugging. And kissing. And finding your hug/kiss match even if it means plenty of rejections. I implore you to read this book!
The absolute best thing about this branch is that I found the library network’s mother lode of Mills & Boon novels and they were all current! There was even a February 2016 title! I clung to that carrel with happiness and then started searching but there was sooo much goodness! Authors that I have been waiting to binge read for years! There were Lynne Graham’s I had missed due to an earlier personal boycott of her books, there were Sara Cravens and Dani Collins and Sarah Morgans and Molly O’Keefes and the list goes on! I asked my colleagues about the currency of the books and they said they were regular donations for a regular borrower. I sighed. Though in this instance, these donations were of a high quality, I am a much bigger fan of libraries that have a buying plan for their Mills and Boon titles. So I borrowed a heap but there was a gold…no…scrap that…a GOLD! discovery which is my next read.
I squealed when I saw this at the library. Like a pig in mud. I adore Anne McAllister. ADORE. A.D.O.R.E. It is not only the Return of an Antonides (hot Greek Americans) but it is the Return of la McAllister!
As for the rest of the titles I borrowed: there’s a photograph of my loans at the top of this post. I’m setting them on my Library TBR shelf (which is separate and has more urgency that my I own this shelf) but I am rushing off because an Antonides story is awaiting (I hope, like all the other Antonideses he turns out to be a Book Boyfriend as I need to score another shallowreaderBingo square)!
All books mentioned in this post were borrowed from a NSW public library.