Saturday, September 23, 2006

take me to the library

quote from juan ramon jimenez at the beginning of blue shoe by anne lamott:

I am not I.
I am this one
walking beside me whom I do not see,
whom at times I manage to visit,
and whom at other times I forget;
who remains calm and silent while I talk,
and forgives, gently, when I hate,
who walks where I am not,
who will remain standing when I die.

i like this quote.

i finally went to the local public library branch recently. i don't know why i'd never been there before. actually, i do know. it's cuz i like to own books i read. but in an effort not to spend so much money, i decided to do the library thing. i had forgotten how fabulous libraries are. a warm place for people to come in and read/relax/get information/borrow books! for free. what a concept. i think there should be libraries for borrowing other things for free as well. power tools, sewing machines, hula hoops, etc.

i love the crinkly noise the plastic cover makes when you open and close a library book.

i like finding notes scribbled in the book or tucked inside. i like the coffee stains.

i was in my library reverie until i realized, library books no longer have the sheath with the card inside that shows the names and dates of who has borrowed the book and when! that's so much of the magic of checking out books at the library lost. i loved seeing a bit of the path of the book. and in a small town, i bet you could learn a bit about your neighbors from this little card. i guess it might be nice not to have the card there if you are checking out something risque or private. i can see an upside. but it still makes me sad. even just the act of checking out the library book and having the librarian stamp the card. i don't know why that was so satisfying. i think stamping things is just satisfying for some reason.

that card was similar to mail art or citycarshare art. the passing on of something from one stranger to the next. a record of something shared, but in absence. (my housemate erica was in a citycarshare car the other day that had a little handmade book in it. some other carshare user had created this book for carshare users to fill. what a rad idea!)

i'm pretty sad about banishment of card catalogues from libraries too. but that's another rant.

ps. i just read alica's post, the tiny bit, that also is a library-loving one. for other novel readers especially, this is an interesting post.


Hayley said...

Hi there-

That's a great quote.

A few years ago I went into a library, after having not gone in one since elementary school, and I wandered around for maybe 20 minutes looking for the card catalogue before finally asking, which was followed by a blank stare from the librarian who then directed me toward the computers.

I hear my old collage library is doing some weird thing where they are getting rid of shelves and putting the collection on what I imagine to look like dry cleaner's racks where you have to know the book you want first, banishing browsing! Doesn't that sound terrible?

I love the idea for item libraries as well. I often consider myself a sort of library of stuff since people are always coming to me to borrow a vacuum cleaner, bike, power tool, etc. I think it would b wonderful to institutionalize [as awful as that word is] that concept. Is there a borrowers collective, similar to freecycle online? That would be interesting.


alma vogler said...

Your quote reminded me of a poem by Mário de Sá Carneiro, a portuguese poet of the early 20th century. "Eu não sou eu nem sou o outro, Sou qualquer coisa de intermédio: Pilar da ponte de tédio Que vai de mim para o Outro." My lousy translation: I'm not me, nor the other. I am something in between. A pillar in the bridge of boredom that crosses from me to the other.

leonie said...

i must admit, i like like to own books i read too. i do visit the library, but there's something about the smell of a new book that makes me lose my ability to think clearly.

i have used the library, but i tend to end up always buying the books i get out anyway! i worked in the library when i was at school and i like the old card loan system better, even though with the new one it's much easier to find things (cos you can look everything up). i still mourn some of the old ways though, the card file systems, having to interact with a librarian and rely on their bookieness to help you find what you're after...

kusink said...

Vad fint du skriver. Inläggen med dina små filosofiska funderingar om livet och annat är helt underbara, kära kusin!

smilnsigh said...

"library books no longer have the sheath with the card inside that shows the names and dates of who has borrowed the book and when!"

Oh yes, isn't that a shame! I did so love to look at them. Boo hisss on lots of *progress.* Hehhh....

amanda said...

Thanks for the library love! As a librarian, it makes me endlessly pleased to hear/read tales of people rediscovering their local library! And yes, I too miss the circulation cards in the backs of books. My library still has them in there but they haven't been stamped in many years. I still pull them out and look at them though - nice to trace the ancient travels of a book. Like a passport for each tome!

Ky said...

it is for this same reason that i love lisa congdon's latest library card series. =) i love the connectedness i feel with these folks from the past, who have happened upon the same books.
this has me contemplating a masters in library science.....hmmmmmm.....=)

jenifer74 said...

i adore libraries & anne lamott :)

Shari said...

my favorite memory when i was little is picking out a big stack of books from the library. i usually read half of them before i got home!

i find myself frequenting the library more often now too, although i love having a big book collection!

great post!

Brooke said...

Across the bay at the North Berkeley branch of the Berkeley library is a tool lending library. I used to live up the street from it and always thought that it was the greatest idea. Next door is the Thai temple where on Sundays you can buy food for a donation to the temple. I highly recommend it! Just take BART to the Ashby stop and walk one block north on MLK and turn right on Russell. The library is on the corner and the Thai temple is next door. Check it out!