Thursday, May 22, 2008

Library Usage

I went to the library yesterday and picked up six books that were waiting for me. I just love having so many books to read but worry that I won't get them done in a timely manner! But since I have no idea when I request books when they'll come in, it sometimes works out this way.

It's interesting for me to think about how I use the library now versus how I used the library growing up or even 10 years ago. When I was growing up, I always had a book with me to read. And I found those books by spending lots of time at the library looking at the shelves. First I would look at the new book section. Then troll through the various shelves with my favorite authors. And of course, there was always the paperback racks to look through too. I would spend hours at the library, especially in the summer, with my head cocked to the side reading titles. Then pull out book after book reading the information on the front flap and the back of the book. I never read the reviews printed on the book - of course they'll be good! And if a book didn't have any summary information on it, back on the shelf it went. (I never really understood why there was nothing about the book there - how was I supposed to know if I wanted to read it or not?)

These days I hardly ever look for books on the shelf. Or if I do, I am looking for a specific book that was recommended or is the next one of an author. I am never just browsing the aisles. Requesting books to be held - I pick up 90% of my books that way. I find that I get recommendations either from friends, my book clubs - both in real life and online, and even from exploring Amazon and other shopping sites. (Course I do like to go into a book store and browse their shelves. And write down what looks interesting and get from the library! Shh! Don't tell! I couldn't afford to buy all the books I want to read!)

As I think about it, the change has to do with the technology available and my available time. Clearly as a kid, I didn't have access to the internet for recommendations nor was I able to request books online. I suppose I could have called and asked for them to pull from the shelf but the library wasn't even really computerized until my high school time frame (yes, I'm old!). And now, I don't have time to spend hours looking up books at the library. I'd rather spend my time reading them (or talking about them).

It's interesting to think about how I will use the library in another 10 years. How will the changes in the technology affect it? And in 10 years, both kids will be in college (OMGosh!) - will I take more time to browse the shelves again? Time will tell!

1 comment:

Polka Dot Creations said...

I used to ride my bike to the library at least twice a week in the summer when I was a kid. Usually more. Your post made me think about my childhood library, and I'm realizing I can still remember the way it smelled, and the way that the staircase to the less-used upper level used to creak.

I think it's mostly a matter of how we choose to spend our leisure time now, as opposed to 20 or more years ago (ouch). I could easily spend an hour in the library as a kid, just browsing, even though the shelves rarely changed in my small town. These days, I feel like I don't have the hour to spare, but truthfully, it is there. It's just that there are other leisure activities that somehow seem more, I don't know, urgent?