libraries - C/D; S/D

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I always feel like some tourist in libraries, like some writer on holiday, faintly scared by all the borrowed ambition I worry into existence when faced with lots of books. the best libraries aren't those that have the most books or have the best, most idiosyncratic ordering system but just those which function as something other than... for example, the mitchell library in glasgow is a v. weird building. outside it is majesty and grandeur, white-washed victorian or georgian or elizabethan or somethingan hugeness but inside it is a faded moving-life portrait of the seventies, replete with columbo carpets and shaky old lifts. I go there more to achieve some attitude rather than to get books out I guess. the staff are curt and slightly impolite as if they've too long inhabited the features of a librarian and have, by some trick of pacing, outgrown themselves. it's a weird and awkward building. inside.

cozen (Cozen), Friday, 19 March 2004 01:15 (seventeen years ago) link

and out.

cozen (Cozen), Friday, 19 March 2004 01:16 (seventeen years ago) link

I loooove the library. So classic that I wouldn't know what to do without them. I don't really care about the buildings, though one of the school libraries is at a school that's going through heavy reconstruction now, so I have a habit of spending way too much standing up top staring down into the big pit, and watching the construction workers hop around. Plus, the scene is totally different every time I go there, so it's a big treat every time.

We have a fairly nice town library here, PLUS there's at least two alright college libraries here that I have access to, so I'm constantly bunning up on books to read. To add to the joy, the school has an online database, where you can not only search through what they have, but what just about every other Norwegian college/university has, and various state institution libraries (though not the regular town libraries, unfortunately)
Which means I can basically get them to order me any book I have any urge to read at the moment, and usually have it within a few days.

I guess I'm the opposite of many people here, as I hardly ever buy any books at all, preferring to just go to the library and pick up 5-10 books that appeal to me at the time, and go through those in the next month or so.
My only problem is that I sometimes end up having way too many books, where I just can't get through them all in time.

Sadly, I haven't much experience with libraries outside of this town, so I haven't seen what the world has to offer, aside from a pathetic small one that I killed a few hours in in Oslo a couple of years ago.

About ordering and such, I was just informed the other day that most of the libraries here go by a system called the Dewey Decimal System (so I was told when I noted that they had the exact same numbering on certain genres as the other libraries around here) , which, after brief googling, seems to be almost a universal standard at this point.

Sorry for not taking the topic in quite the direction that you originally pointed it to.

Øystein H-O (Øystein H-O), Friday, 19 March 2004 01:42 (seventeen years ago) link


cozen (Cozen), Friday, 19 March 2004 01:46 (seventeen years ago) link

Some of my favorite childhood memories take place in libraries.

- The summer that I was 10 and ventured into the town's library (a small, two-room affair, as the town's population was about 300). A kindly librarian, with an amazing dowagers hump and cat's eye glasses dangling from a rhinestone chain, who introduced me to both Herriot's All Creatures Great and Small AND the card catalogue.

- In my early teens, at the main county library (in a town with a population of about 3500), suddenly making the move from the children's/young adult's section (which had provided me with a wonderful introduction to Heinlein) to that area for "grown-up" books where I found all sorts of wonderful things. (And where I found some wonderfully exotic books on human reproduction that I used to hide behind the stacks to read.)

- Saturday mornings as an older teen, volunteering for "reading hour" with the kidlets, all those squirming little angels laughing out-loud to Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and The Island of the Skog.

I wish there was an eau de library perfume.

I'm Passing Open Windows (Ms Laura), Friday, 19 March 2004 03:03 (seventeen years ago) link

Theoretically, I love libraries. More specifically, I love being surrounded by books. Unfortunately, I never go to the library because I don't like the thought of touching grubby books that other people have touched. Err... It's this thing I have about germs. In the end, buy my own books and add them to my personal library.

Vermont Girl (Vermont Girl), Friday, 19 March 2004 12:48 (seventeen years ago) link

When I was a little kid I decided to read every book in my small town library, alphabetically. I started, and the books would come in, some in foreign languages, or adult non-fiction, etc. I would check them out and take them home and look thru them. The librarian must've thought I was a really weird little girl... I loved the library then, and now (since I have worked in one for the last--almost--twenty years.) It's a great place!!!

pepektheassassin (pepektheassassin), Friday, 19 March 2004 15:23 (seventeen years ago) link

Like VG I have decided to grow my own library. In my opinion, the selection is mostly exquisite and I can drink, smoke, eat, play music and do all of this in clothing optional environment. Plus my cats are more attentive than any of the cats I ever met at the library. All that said, I have some lovely memories of libraries mostly for their feel, their smell, and their hushed, faintly hallowed stillness and not for their contents. If left with nothing else of any value, I'll read the encyclopedia or, hell, a phone book, provided the seating is comfortable and there's a window to stare out when I get distracted.

Michael White (Hereward), Friday, 19 March 2004 16:46 (seventeen years ago) link

I lived in commuter belt Essex as a kid. In our town the library had a trapdoor out the back full of mouldy books in a kind of cellar / annex. We used to climb down and mess around in there. The council concreted it shut in the end.

I used to read the Secret Seven adventures down there amid the gloom.

Mikey G (Mikey G), Friday, 19 March 2004 16:55 (seventeen years ago) link

I have the fondest memories of my small town library, the smell especially. I was allowed to get an adult card when I was underage because of my precocious reading habits. My mother and I read our way through the mysteries together and I love that bond. I work in a library now that is noted for its architecture- designed by . People still ask when we will paint it. It was finished in 1993. It has areas that feel all hushed and full of possibility, but it's the heart of a small town and truly a pretty lively, rather than contemplative, place. The ironic part is that it used to be my bolthole on a busy day as I waited for my husband to finish up at work, but now that I work there, it's harder to find a quiet spot.

Rabin the Cat (Rabin the Cat), Friday, 19 March 2004 20:46 (seventeen years ago) link

Er, I didn't mean to imply that I don't have my own, overflowing and embarassing library that's overtaken my house.

Actually, I've not been in a public library (er, do University libraries count as being public?) since coming to Florida ... 6 1/2 year. Wow. That's depressing.

I'm Passing Open Windows (Ms Laura), Saturday, 20 March 2004 07:04 (seventeen years ago) link

As a library assistant, I feel that I should point out that a library is not just a collection of books. I am a knowledge gatekeeper! haha

jel -- (jel), Saturday, 20 March 2004 11:14 (seventeen years ago) link

I love libraries so long as they are not 'hallowed'. It's funny/sad, one of the major problems public libraries have is that they are a hugely popular public service in that when asked people assert that they are A Good Thing, but far fewer people actually use them. Especially since the collapse of the NBA made book-buying a far more achievable activity.

And what jel said. The likes of Nicholson Baker and Private Eye adhere to daft notions of what libraries should be that make my blood boil! Also, there is a rabid campaign at the moment to 'save' my local library. Which means save the attractive but inappropriate (and inaccessible to wheelchairs and thus soon illegal) building it's housed in. It's pathetic nostalgia and half the people with posters in their windows NEVER use the library service.

Archel (Archel), Tuesday, 23 March 2004 10:32 (seventeen years ago) link

borrowing books from the library seems a little unnecessary. i entirely agree with the achieving attitude thing altho sporting a beret and cig is good too. i wonder if i am a bit showy with my inner thoughts but then tourism is all to me

prima fassy (mwah), Wednesday, 24 March 2004 02:45 (seventeen years ago) link

kodwo eshun sat across from me in the library the other day. i couldnt work out if it was him tho, he is a dapper gent but he had a nasty parka and rucksack thing going which skewed my surety. plus yknow what if hey kodwo! no i'm just a black man holding a book oh sorry sorry etc. maybe it ws someone reading more brilliant than the sun upside down! with the face and all. or k eshun reading it upside down even better. in the end i went and saw what he'd been reading after he left and it was like an 1992 ICA exhibition catalogue for some franz fanon thing. it could have been research one supposes but it seemed a lonely thing to be doing.

prima fassy (mwah), Wednesday, 24 March 2004 02:54 (seventeen years ago) link

When growing up, I spent part of my childhood with my grandmother. She was part owner of this business in this really rural area of the state, which had a very small county library branch. It was ONE big room. When I found out my town library card was good there, I read everything I could get my hands on in the kid section. The mean librarian wouldn't let me look at the "adult" books.

Recently my town's library underwent a massive remodel. Our area has grown so much that it was really needed about 15 years ago. Anyway, it was really difficult for my mind to reconcile the image/memories of the old library with the new library remodel. Even now, I feel at times that I'm playing with one of those old "viewmasters" we had as kids, flipping the slide images back and forth :)

I do like the new improvements, though...

yesabibliophile (yesabibliophile), Friday, 26 March 2004 21:43 (seventeen years ago) link

yes they are very good i go with the kids once a week at least to the public one. it is a wonderful thing to get all these books to read or just look at and not have to pay a penny!

also i work in one where there is lots of music and a few books. i'm there now.

mullygrubber (gaz), Sunday, 28 March 2004 02:32 (seventeen years ago) link

I agree with the people who say that most people think that the library is a great idea, but they never use it, and also the people who say that the library is a great place for more than just books. I think that libraries need to decide what they are and what the public needs. Does your town need a place where everyone shuts the hell up and reads dusty old books? Or a place where people can bring their children to hear stories and see puppet shows? Or a place where people can just hang out somewhere warm for free and learn how to use the internet? Or all of the above and more?

I never use the library, mostly because I would have to give the books back after a couple of weeks, instead of keeping them forever and ever.

accentmonkey (accentmonkey), Monday, 29 March 2004 09:01 (seventeen years ago) link

Oh and libraries are also good because I am reading poetry at one on May 14th ;)

Archel (Archel), Monday, 29 March 2004 13:01 (seventeen years ago) link

accentmonkey, our library did a study on how effective they were being in offering more than "just books" to its community. Not only were people happy to be able to borrow DVDs, CDs, videos, magazines, bring kids to the story hours, but the library found that book circulation jumped (I can't remember exact number, but I think it was at least 20%) to the point they qualified for more funds to purchase more books.

And not just the new fiction/nonfiction, etc. were being borrowed. Books that had languished in the stacks were being checked out-one comment from a staff member was that more books have been saved from going to the Friends sale because people are checking them out again.

yesabibliophile (yesabibliophile), Tuesday, 30 March 2004 14:15 (seventeen years ago) link

That's pretty cool. I have a couple of friends who worked for the public library service in Dublin. One of them wanted to give free guitar lessons for children once a week in the children's section and was told that he couldn't because the library was supposed to be for books, not music.

He does not work there anymore.

accentmonkey (accentmonkey), Tuesday, 30 March 2004 14:39 (seventeen years ago) link

one month passes...
Best libraries are those that haven't yet succumbed to the pernicious trend to weed out all the "old, useless" books. I love browsing and finding fascinating nineteenth or early twentieth century books. Too many libraries are trying to become Borders or Waterstones.

Sredni Vashtar, Thursday, 20 May 2004 20:19 (seventeen years ago) link

I "rescue" old books from weeding all the time by checking them out, even if I don't intend to read them at that time. Most libraries first line of questioning in the "shall we keep it" sweepstakes is last date checked out. Recently checked out books don't even make it on the "consider weeding" list. Be a library subversive- do your part by checking out books you want to remain on the shelves.

Rabin the Cat (Rabin the Cat), Friday, 21 May 2004 03:56 (seventeen years ago) link

ten months pass...
I forgot about this thread.

I never realised how important having access to a well-designed and efficiently functioning library is to actually reading.

cozen (Cozen), Sunday, 27 March 2005 00:41 (sixteen years ago) link

I liked it when zem posted here. : (

cozen (Cozen), Sunday, 27 March 2005 00:43 (sixteen years ago) link

The Seattle Library is the greatest thing about Seattle. Well, the greatest thing that isn't a person.

Casuistry (Chris P), Sunday, 27 March 2005 00:49 (sixteen years ago) link

You do realise that if libraries don't weed, they don't get to buy new books, right? (Not that I imagine that all libraries' weeding policies are perfect by any means.)

Anyway, yay libraries. I couldn't live without them (and I wouldn't have a career either ha.)

I've spent a large chunk of my time in the new library in Brighton since it opened. They seem to be doing the books thing pretty well, as well as the computers thing and the ecologically sound and attractive building thing. And the RFID thing (although I'm not sure that all the users are ready for self-issue, really). Shame about the leaking roof though... just teething trouble I hope.

Archel (Archel), Wednesday, 30 March 2005 09:40 (sixteen years ago) link

Our central town library(Luton) is possibly the worst-designed in the country, an unpleasant relic of the 60s(when they knocked the much-loved old library down, and replaced it with a breezeblock with windows). The second floor would have quite a large floor area, except that they put a great big open space in the middle so you can see through to the floor below, meaning all the reference shelves are squashed around the sides. Ridiculous.

I realise this isn't unique, but as I've seen it, the turnover of books is way too fast. I've seen plenty of perfectly good(and often nearly new) ones being given away for as little as 20p.

I understand the importance of weeding out unpopular stuff, but there are some books which I really feel should be kept hold of, regardless of popularity. I was gutted when I found out all the R. Chetwynd-Hayes collections I used to see on the shelves in the mid-nineties had all gone. Since he died, you can't find those *anywhere*, but there should at least be library copies available. There's nothing.

Philip Alderman (Phil A), Wednesday, 30 March 2005 11:34 (sixteen years ago) link

I approve of weeding good stuff when they sell it to me - I don't know what proportion of my thousands of books were ex-library, but it's quite a lot.

Martin Skidmore (Martin Skidmore), Wednesday, 30 March 2005 20:00 (sixteen years ago) link

The big downtown library in Rochester (N.Y.) used to have a little hidden reading room off the children's library section. The door was a bookcase, and you couldn't see it if you didn't know it was there. I (and presumably other kids) thought it was the coolest thing in the world. They've remodeled the library sometime recently, so I don't know if it's still there, but I hope so.

I loved all libraries when I was a kid, I'm not sure why. There was something both welcoming and mysterious about them, in a way that was different from toy stores or whatever other places I venerated. I will make sure my son spends a lot of time in libraries.

gypsy mothra (gypsy mothra), Thursday, 31 March 2005 00:55 (sixteen years ago) link

S: University of Limerick; NUI Galway, Ireland

D: Limerick City library, the fucking psychoes who work in the NUI Galway library

fcussen (Burger), Thursday, 31 March 2005 10:38 (sixteen years ago) link

The Main Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, by Grand Army Plaza, is highly recommended.

57 7th (calstars), Thursday, 31 March 2005 16:06 (sixteen years ago) link

I've always been a library nerd. I used to do picture research when I lived in Australia, and I would find any excuse to take a work-related trip to the State Library in Melbourne to do some research. God I loved that place. Sacramento Library is pretty cool too...I've found that they've had quite a lot of books that I've had on my list to buy, so I feel less bad about reading & spending money. Guilt-free reading! Plus I can borrow a lot of books at a time, which I love. There's just something about wandering the stacks. I also love librarians. Wanted to be one, and almost quit school to do it, too. I don't think I could live without having a local library at my disposal. Even if my addiction to buying books continues unabated, regardless.

VegemiteGrrl (VegemiteGrrl), Friday, 1 April 2005 06:16 (sixteen years ago) link

I hate libraries, I can't read books from them as it feels like the soul has been ripped out of them (as well spines broken) which is just a personal idiosyncracy. I always buy books that I want to read.

But like most institutions I do support them in the good works they do, whatever it is they do.

Kevan (Kevan), Friday, 1 April 2005 14:18 (sixteen years ago) link

I feel the same way, despite or because of the fact that I logged so many hours at various libraries in my youth. At one point I got some image in my head of libraries as Dickensian institutions for unwanted books and, once I got it in my head, like Mr. Dick's manuscript and Charles the First, I couldn't keep it out. I did not feel up to playing Aunt Betsy Trotwood and rescuing them.

Ken L (Ken L), Friday, 1 April 2005 15:10 (sixteen years ago) link

I hate libraries, I can't read books from them as it feels like the soul has been ripped out of them (as well spines broken) which is just a personal idiosyncracy. I always buy books that I want to read.

For some reason I really like reading banged up old books, I'd say I get the opposite impression from yours, really. There's something so lovely about a book that's held together with tape and whose back is so creased or broken that it's nigh impossible to figure out what the book is.
The town libary here has some great books published in the late 19th century that are absolutely lovely in this regard.
There's something really depressing about borrowing books from libraries and having to cut apart the pages, despite the stamp saying that the library bought the cursed things over fifty years ago.

In other words, bookfetischists would cry if they saw how I sometimes treat my own books. Death to this ghastly "respect for the author" joke that some people pretend that their tweezer-pageturning madness is founded on.

It's not possible to be banned from ILB, right?

That being said, I was pretty pissed that my paperback copy of "Blindness" was in five pieces by the time I'd finished reading it. Cheap glue ist krieg.

Øystein (Øystein), Friday, 1 April 2005 18:57 (sixteen years ago) link

I've only had two books crumble on me.

Cujo which was a cheap paperback I bought in a drugstore in the US and New York 1960 - which collapsed under its own weight.

Kevan (Kevan), Friday, 1 April 2005 19:18 (sixteen years ago) link

Definitely on the pro libraries side of this debate :-).

I suspect that it has a lot to do with the fact that I am a very eclectic reader and that like Oystein I like books which are not perfect and have obviously been read and loved (or hated)before. In a bookstore you can almost always get what you want. This is not the case with libraries; often that book you were looking for has been taken by someone else that was also looking for it. So you end up having to search around, look at other books on the same subject or by the same author, taking a punt on a book which may interest you but you just would not be willing to buy new. I have found many interesting new authors and subjects via a mixture of frustration and serendipity in a library.

And yes for a while harboured thoughts of being a librarian before real world considerations intervened.

oblomov, Friday, 1 April 2005 22:31 (sixteen years ago) link

six months pass...
someone else from luton - ! weird

i just moved out though.

tom west (thomp), Friday, 7 October 2005 17:57 (sixteen years ago) link

Actually, I popped into my new local library and I remembered instantly why I don't like reading books from the library. That awful plastic covering. Whatever it is, it's the least pleasurable thing to touch in existence. I spent a good hour in there just checking out what was in there, most of the books I picked up were in a terrible state and some were scrawled on. SCRAWLED ON. WITH PEN!! A LIBRARY BOOK!!

Navek Rednam (Navek Rednam), Friday, 7 October 2005 18:41 (sixteen years ago) link

Oh good heavens, what fussy -- I mean, discriminating patrons we have on this thread! I'll tell you what, my mother was so grateful for libraries that she scraped together the dough to join a private library in our county, and a SERIOUSLY cool one: Hackley Library.

Building, land, & furnishings were donated by a lumber baron in, like 1890. The reading room features a fireplace, leather chairs, & stained glass windows with literary greats (pre-dating the Barnes & Noble cameo campaign by, like, 100 years). Just going there was magic enough without it being full up with literary treasures -- they have one of the few reproductions of the Book of Kells, extensive stacks (some of which are located on a mezzanine level with a GREEN GLASS FLOOR), and tons of kids programs. We used to drive the 30 miles each way on the weekends and fill up grocery sacks with books which would keep us quiet for a few days and furnish a week of bedtime stories, although there were some conditions: one old policy I loathed was that I was allowed 25 books but at least 5 had to be non-fiction. Also, I learned about BD/SM from a sci-fi book taken out of the YA section -- CLEARLY no one had any idea what it was about BUT HEY, science fiction is for kids, RIGHT?? Because it's about things that AREN'T TRUE. Mwahaha.

Laurel (Laurel), Friday, 7 October 2005 19:11 (sixteen years ago) link

But did they have plastic covers?

Navek Rednam (Navek Rednam), Friday, 7 October 2005 19:23 (sixteen years ago) link

Yes, I'm sure most of the books are laminated or wrapped in plastic of some kind because, you know, libraries generally like it when books hold up for more than THREE READINGS.

Laurel (Laurel), Friday, 7 October 2005 19:28 (sixteen years ago) link

I prefer bookshops to libraries. The smell of new books is the best perfume. You don't know where some books have been in libraries - germies ick. But it's nice when libraries get NEW books, so maybe 1/2 and 1/2.

salexander / sophie (salexander), Saturday, 8 October 2005 01:19 (sixteen years ago) link

New books? Do they even have a smell? I always think of used books as having a nice smell to them -- those are the bookstores I hang out in.

Casuistry (Chris P), Saturday, 8 October 2005 06:52 (sixteen years ago) link

OF COURSE they have a smell! It's like a crisp papery inky "new" smell. Fabulous. Much better than the stale musty stench of used book dungeons where the books are like poor little discarded prisoners shackled to the shelves. I could just be going to the wrong places?

salexander / sophie (salexander), Saturday, 8 October 2005 09:19 (sixteen years ago) link

I guess I just prefer my books a bit fermented.

Casuistry (Chris P), Saturday, 8 October 2005 17:44 (sixteen years ago) link


k/l (Ken L), Saturday, 8 October 2005 17:57 (sixteen years ago) link


Casuistry (Chris P), Saturday, 8 October 2005 21:43 (sixteen years ago) link

I have fallen out of love with my local library :(

We just seem to have grown apart, it's nobody's fault... oh who am I kidding DAMN YOU LIBRARY IT'S ALL YOUR FAULT. You simply don't have enough books to satisfy my appetite. You also think you're a book shop. You're not. Which means that IT DOESN'T MAKE SENSE to put out lovely themed displays which change all the time, because unlike Borders you only have ONE COPY of that book you are displaying, and how can I trust your fancy catalogue if it's just as likely that the book is on some revolving flourescent platform by the entrance, or in the special 'new books' basement, or part of the art exhibit on the ceiling, as on the shelf WHERE I MIGHT ACTUALLY BE LOOKING FOR IT. Libraries are supposed to share and ORGANISE books, not sell them.

So fuck you and the £2.85 I owe you.

Archel (Archel), Monday, 10 October 2005 15:44 (sixteen years ago) link

I just joined the local library in Hastings. It's pitifully understocked and feels like an adjunct to the Surestart/Jobseekers centre above... but, hey, it's all about the inter-library loans.

Jerry the Nipper (Jerrynipper), Monday, 10 October 2005 19:33 (sixteen years ago) link

mean surely the problem isn't that it's not on the shelf, right? It seems like half the books at my library aren't on the shelves at all, they're in the cavernous basement stacks. Not finding a book on the shelf is common; you just ask the librarian to find it for you, and they do so, and la dee dum da.

It's fine to have that system, if it's explicit. The problem is that the library staff often have no way to find the book either. And that it conflicts with their nice brand new RFID self-issue thing, which is supposed to empower the user or whatever. Instead of feeling empowered I feel stupid for not being able to use a library when I'm a librarian.

I think it's good for libraries to modernise (I wouldn't mind dog agility shows! though maybe not IN the library...), and I also use them myself in a serendipitous way, looking at the displays etc. But I want a sensible orgnisational system AS WELL.

Archel (Archel), Tuesday, 11 October 2005 07:24 (sixteen years ago) link

Don't they have computers in your library, though?

I like the auto-check-out machines. Now I can take out issues of Victorian Spanking Pornographie Monthly without having to explain to the human librarian about "my thesis".

Casuistry (Chris P), Tuesday, 11 October 2005 15:36 (sixteen years ago) link

Oh, I wish my libraries had self check out machines.

tokyo nursery school: afternoon session (rosemary), Tuesday, 11 October 2005 18:08 (sixteen years ago) link

My library has two self-check-out machines. However, they work approximately 25% of the time. Leaving the disgruntled patrons to disembark there, unload their books, realize the machines will not process them, then amble up to the check-out desk and say . . . "Are the self-check-out machines still not working . . . ?"

I used to mostly use libraries for their reading rooms. Some problems I had with libraries: the book you want isn't in that physical library, or the catalog says the book is in the library but you can't find it on the shelf; the books are dirty, or other people have touched the books. I used to buy mostly new paperbacks, at least a couple a week, until I finally realized after moving for the xxx time that I couldn't keep ferrying boxes of books around, or storing them in my parent's basement. I ended up donating most of the books I had bought to . . . libraries, or Housing Works.

Once I started using libraries to browse, rather than find a specific book, I became a lot happier, and ended up with a lot of interesting books from various NYC libraries. I also started doing inter-library-loan, but ordered more books and movies than I could carry away when they all arrived at once.

Now, I work at a library and I haven't bought a book since last summer. (Except for some books I had to buy for my graduate degree program in libary science.) The fact that books are old or used doesn't bother me at all now. I enjoy knowing that many people are able to make use of one object. Similarly, when people check out arty, foreign DVDs, certain films circulate heavily, and there is a certain economy and purity in one film serving so many.

Patrons be hating to pay their late fines though.

Mary (Mary), Monday, 17 October 2005 00:19 (sixteen years ago) link

nine months pass...
once, inspired by this thread, i tried to visit an archival library that i had never been in before, on campus. but since it was not designed for casual patrons i couldn't even figure out where to go to get to look at, like, library stuff. : / there was a dissapointing shortage of signs and directories, too.

Josh (Josh), Friday, 11 August 2006 09:38 (fifteen years ago) link

L.A. Central Library, flickr style.

Damn, Atreyu! (x Jeremy), Friday, 11 August 2006 19:30 (fifteen years ago) link

five years pass...

did uk-ers know that nearly every public library gives you free access at home to online references like the OED, Dictionary of National Biography, Grove Art and Music, stuff that costs about a grand a year to subscribe if you're not at a university? but they just don't tell people! i only found out because i checked lewisham's library website, and they're about the only one that does mention it. i assumed they were just unusually forward thinking, but no. it's an amazing service, you just punch in your library card number to log in. it's crazy that they seem to keep it secret. or maybe it's just me that didn't know!

joe, Sunday, 21 August 2011 17:18 (ten years ago) link

i did not know that. even my uni doesn't give me OED access far as i can tell. (do get dnb.) so thanks!

old money entertainment (history mayne), Sunday, 21 August 2011 17:25 (ten years ago) link

yeah i didn't know that, though i am not good with that whole world, & have only really dipped into journals etc in academic libraries. to be even dumber: i don't specifically know what those resources are, outside of the OED - what is it you're using them for, or might have access to?

sweatpants life trajectory (schlump), Sunday, 21 August 2011 17:26 (ten years ago) link

dnb is what it says: high-quality essays on the great and good of britain. like wikipedia.

old money entertainment (history mayne), Sunday, 21 August 2011 17:27 (ten years ago) link

man, i always wished there had been a printed equivalent of wikipedia pre-internet.

thanks for that, i might start just blindly checking some of these out.

sweatpants life trajectory (schlump), Sunday, 21 August 2011 17:30 (ten years ago) link

wow cool. Britannica Online, 19th Century British Library Newspapers, Oxford Reference Online Premium...can't believe i never noticed this

Countdown to Alma Cogan (Noodle Vague), Sunday, 21 August 2011 17:31 (ten years ago) link

holy shit all those too? why the fuck am i paying for college.

old money entertainment (history mayne), Sunday, 21 August 2011 17:34 (ten years ago) link

here's a link from OUP where you can check what your local library is signed up to:

i don't know where you can check about other online services. lewisham has the times archive and some other great stuff, but islington is totally silent on the issue, despite being signed up to all the OUP sites.

joe, Sunday, 21 August 2011 17:36 (ten years ago) link

Britannica is a "library edition" apparently.

am open to trades of library card numbers itt

Countdown to Alma Cogan (Noodle Vague), Sunday, 21 August 2011 17:37 (ten years ago) link

cos we don't get Grove Music or Art apparently

Countdown to Alma Cogan (Noodle Vague), Sunday, 21 August 2011 17:38 (ten years ago) link

just realised that the next time i tell the kids not to use Wikipedia for their homework i've got somewhere more useful to point them

Countdown to Alma Cogan (Noodle Vague), Sunday, 21 August 2011 17:54 (ten years ago) link


joe, Sunday, 21 August 2011 18:03 (ten years ago) link

yeah but what if their homework assignment is about ayn rand references in south park? what then?

nakhchivan, Sunday, 21 August 2011 18:08 (ten years ago) link

joel pretty much has South Park memorised

Countdown to Alma Cogan (Noodle Vague), Sunday, 21 August 2011 18:10 (ten years ago) link

eight months pass...

not sure this is the best place for this, but i think it's really interesting and wanted to share:

Mordy, Monday, 23 April 2012 23:59 (nine years ago) link

nine months pass...

He never married. A love in early life refused him, and continued single after his death. This event increased his peculiarly reserved and retired habits, and he became and continued a recluse, never being seen in the New York society to which by birth and connection he belonged. He declined proffered visits from the most distinguished men of the Old World and the New. An eminent scholar, who was occupied for many weeks in consulting rare books not to be found elsewhere, failed to obtain access to the library of Lenox. He was assigned an apartment in Lenox's spacious mansion for his use, and to that apartment the works were sent in installments without his ever penetrating into the hall containing the precious collection, or to the presence of its possessor.

alimosina, Tuesday, 29 January 2013 18:38 (eight years ago) link

one year passes...

I'm sitting at a library computer, and the guy beside me has a Ted Kaczynski beard, is about the same age, and he's intently jotting down notes from the Wikipedia page for the 1998 U.S. Embassy Bombings...onto an upside-down packing slip. Somewhat unnerving.

clemenza, Sunday, 1 June 2014 18:32 (seven years ago) link

Picked up some ILL on Saturday and I saw a copy of Mein Kampf on the shelves. Wouldn't think much of it but since a couple of racist parties always put up candidates in any elections in my constituency...then again its neither here nor there. Sorta forgot about it till your revive.

xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 3 June 2014 09:18 (seven years ago) link

six months pass...

Because I can log on to my account online and search through the network I can see what they have or not at any time and put in a request. Consequently I am borrowing more than ever. I can also renew at any time so am now better at avoiding fines too.

Libraries have always been an anxious body of an institution though - they always stocked records, CDs, films and have all sorts of workshop type activities (which the staff seem to dislike having - libraries maybe part of the community but there seems to be a quasi-social worker element to the role at times). That was before the web so now you have computer terminals too, just to get more people through.

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 11 December 2014 10:39 (six years ago) link

there seems to be a quasi-social worker element to the role at times

The readers in my local library are overwhelmingly, for want of a better description, Care in the Community types, people with "issues" shall we say, some of them seem to more or less live in there. Severely harassed young mothers with toddlers are about the only other users.

Letsby Avenue (Tom D.), Thursday, 11 December 2014 12:30 (six years ago) link

Absolutely, same with my local. That + schoolkids who come in to use the interweb.

I think the cuts are having an impact on numbers as well as Amazon and the like. But it is an impression, hard to qualify. Also you can tell who is the librarian and who is the volunteer. The latter are annoyingly enthusiastic and ask you about what you are reading.

The council are consulting on cutting a couple more libraries, making them into 'community' type things, so that aspect will get worse as they don't have to pay people then. I did read the consultation paper with a couple of very dogdy graphs and stats. I wanted to write a letter but actually they are retaining the vast majority of the current network and I'll happily save that for the bigger fights to come.

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 11 December 2014 12:43 (six years ago) link

even though i'm a librarian i feel horribly ignorant of the major issues facing a public library. academic libraries are really just a different beast

marcos, Thursday, 11 December 2014 14:33 (six years ago) link

totally. i used to work with a young woman who abandoned academic librarianship for public, which idea to me is fucking bonkers.

in new orleans public librarians start at $30k, while surrounding parishes are cheaper to live in and pay (marginally) better. that means you have this self-selected and often highly motivated workforce in these urban libraries (who do all sorts of stuff, involved in the nola bookfair, books to prisoners, etc) and they just get shit on constantly with budget cuts and no respect and it's just infuriating. i'm sure it's the same across the country.

adam, Thursday, 11 December 2014 14:44 (six years ago) link

Ferguson Public Library has been doing some great & important work recently.

Ratt in Mi Kitchen (Neil S), Thursday, 11 December 2014 14:53 (six years ago) link

three months pass...

Had to use the PCs in my local library this week 'cuz my laptop's gone tits up. The library is ALWAYS packed btw, in the evenings anyway, so much so that sometimes people have to sit on the floor. Anyway, minding my business the other day when a guy sits down to use the PC beside me. Out comes a plastic bag with hundreds of crumpled bits of paper, ripped from notebooks, which he spends a while (very) noisily rummaging through pulling out ones that seem to pique his interest - though all of them appear to be almost identical, consisting of violently scrawled arrows pointing in various directions and the occasional mysterious symbol. Eventually he settles down to actually use the PC and I soon notice that he is very intently studying a web page and producing yet more pages of the arrows/symbols. Curiosity gets the better of me and I sneak a peek at the page, it's a YouTube page of Bruce Hornsby & the Range. I should made my excuses and left right there and then.

(btw I'm writing this in the library and the guy (a different one) sitting beside me has just pulled out a large smelly quiche/flan of some description (in one of those metal foil bases) and started eating it. I'm sitting in his seat you see, because today was the first time I'd been in this library, be it morning, afternoon, evening, weekday, weekend and NOT seen him sitting at this particular PC. He came in slightly later than me, saw me sitting here and rushed off, coming back to sit at the PC beside me. At one point, I got up to ask one of the library assistants a question, my arse was not 2 millimetres from the chair when he asked, "Are you finished?" "No, I'm not finished". Anyway, having shot me a worried look, I think he's gone to make sure he can book this PC after I'm finished before anyone else can get to it first.)

Betel-chewing Equipment of East New Guinea (Tom D.), Saturday, 21 March 2015 12:27 (six years ago) link

is he sharing his quiche

guess that bundt gettin eaten (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Saturday, 21 March 2015 12:32 (six years ago) link

Sounds like you are having fun Tom. I know I'd be in no hurry to sort out any laptops if I was in your position.

xyzzzz__, Saturday, 21 March 2015 12:36 (six years ago) link

(xp) Unlikely given how territorial he is over 'his' PC, don't you think?

Betel-chewing Equipment of East New Guinea (Tom D.), Saturday, 21 March 2015 12:38 (six years ago) link

Here's what's been going on at my library lately:

That shit right there is precedented. (cryptosicko), Saturday, 21 March 2015 13:36 (six years ago) link

I always feel like some tourist in libraries, like some writer on holiday, faintly scared by all the borrowed ambition I worry into existence when faced with lots of books.

haha i went to a real bookstore constructed in physical space last night and i felt exactly like this

j., Saturday, 21 March 2015 14:39 (six years ago) link

four months pass...

Back in the library today, the Quiche Man is in his usual spot, I assume he spends all day in here. Anyway, the guy opposite me just went through the longest most elaborate leaving ritual I've ever seen, standing up, organizing cables of the numerous electronic devices he had on him, opening rucksacks to take out various folders and then putting them back in, putting various newspapers in bags and then taking them out again, putting on sunglasses, pausing to drink some strange liquid from a jar wrapped in a black plastic bag, taking off sunglasses, taking out folders again, fiddling about with his numerous electronic devices, putting folders back, putting sunglasses back on... and after all that he still left one of the folders on the table! Hey, hold on, he's back, carrying a plastic bag stuffed with victuals, when did it become a thing to eat in a public library? So he's just opened a packet of biscuits and has started in on them ... oh now he's on to a banana... I forgot to mention that all the time he's been wearing a large set of headphones so, give him the benefit of the doubt, he probably doesn't realize the extraordinary decibel level of biting into a carrot and eating it open mouthed. A second banana, alternating mouthful of banana with biscuit shoved forcefully in open gob. Another cacophonous carrot. Time to leave.

The Tony Hart Land (Tom D.), Saturday, 8 August 2015 15:27 (six years ago) link

poor guy

j., Sunday, 9 August 2015 17:10 (six years ago) link

ten months pass...

a lot of modern libraries in london at least dont seem like the libraries i grew up with. or the idea of a library at least.

good to borrow stuff from, on the whole, but between the removal of librarian desks as the entry and exit point, and their replacement with self service checkouts, and the increase of libraries as community spaces where most footfall seems to be about IT use (with people just using it to look at FB or YT or whatever), the idea of libraries as quiet places to work and study has basically vanished.

not to be all fusty about it, but they used to be a good place to read, and work, or study, now theyre so casualised and reformatted as 'community spaces' that you have none of that. if the computers were just in one space, that would be fine maybe, but often theyre not.

OTOH i did read something about lambeth libraries being turned into gyms (or more bizarrely, gyms that also act as libraries), which is crap for anyone who likes reading/needs books, but might be a better use of space (and maybe make people healthier.... praps) if gyms are likely to get used more. i do often wonder how much libraries are used these days. but then thats prob what the tories want me to think.

StillAdvance, Friday, 10 June 2016 11:54 (five years ago) link

my best recent memory of libraries is having to ask three middle aged female librarians to quieten down a bit as i was trying to study something. theyre as bad as the kids who come in to 'study'.

StillAdvance, Friday, 10 June 2016 11:56 (five years ago) link

Lambeth is closing libraries to cut costs, replacing them with 'community hubs', unstaffed libraries plus private gyms. During the transition the buildings are being secured by private firms costing three times more than it would to keep them open.

I've had Eno, ugh (ledge), Friday, 10 June 2016 12:08 (five years ago) link

The one I used a few times was a small and dismal place with a very limited selection of books though.

I've had Eno, ugh (ledge), Friday, 10 June 2016 12:17 (five years ago) link

half the staff at my local library actually seem to have a contempt for books so sometimes i wonder if unstaffed libraries would even have any effect.

StillAdvance, Friday, 10 June 2016 12:18 (five years ago) link

see recent letter from Friends of Lambeth Libraries to the council after councillors made hay from an erroneously quoted £ figure in the Friends' previous letter and press release.

Fizzles, Saturday, 11 June 2016 10:58 (five years ago) link

one year passes...

Back in my local library this morning. Minor panic as Quiche Man arrived, at high speed, to find a young woman already sitting at his PC; happily she left fairly quickly but thereafter followed much bustling to-and-froing from the main desk to the PC and back again as he secured his PC from any further encroachment.

the idea of libraries as quiet places to work and study has basically vanished.

This isn't my experience in this library, people are very respectful and quiet. Also, it's not all people on PCs, a lot of people do seem to be here to work and study or read newspapers etc.

Terry Micawber (Tom D.), Thursday, 19 October 2017 09:13 (four years ago) link

... and the library staff are always the loudest people in the library, by some distance.

Terry Micawber (Tom D.), Thursday, 19 October 2017 09:17 (four years ago) link

three years pass...

Depressing article about conservative Trump donors getting elected to a suburban Chicago library board and destroying it from within:

among the many lowlights:

The Board suggested volunteers could handle a number of those outreach activities, and they purposefully slashed the funding for books in non-English languages. During the debates prior to election, the topic of inclusivity at the library set off a range of responses, including Makula making it clear he believes in assimilation.

“We should concentrate on people learning English because that’s the language here,” Makula said. “Instead of stocking up on books in seven different languages, if we got people to assimilate and learn English better, I think we would do more good than increasing our inventory of foreign language books.”

a superficial sheeb of intelligence (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Thursday, 15 July 2021 14:09 (three months ago) link

It's been ages since I was in a library that invited a sense of treasure hunting when I browse the stacks. Public library collections I've browsed in the past few decades tend to be ruthlessly culled of older volumes that haven't been checked out a sufficient number of times lately to earn their shelf space.

The best musty old, unruly library I ever encountered was attached to the Washington State Capitol Building in Olympia, back in the late 1970s. It was kept for the use of the legislators and their staff, who apparently had forgotten about its existence. I could roam around in the stacks and was happy as a hog in a wallow on a hot, hot day.

it is to laugh, like so, ha! (Aimless), Saturday, 17 July 2021 17:43 (three months ago) link

I think our local library does a pretty decent job of both. They really do keep up to date with more modern, tech reliant services, but they also cordon those off to separate floors of the library and there are indeed still corners where I do manage to still feel lost in the books. I'm pretty pleased with how they manage the balance in 2021.

a superficial sheeb of intelligence (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Friday, 23 July 2021 15:05 (two months ago) link

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