Thursday, April 28, 2011

Kathryn's Misadventures in Library Land

A few days ago, I went to my local library to pick up some reserved books and left feeling as bewildered as Alice in Wonderland.  I'm a little embarrassed to admit this, but it was probably the first time I'd set foot in a library in five or six years.  (I get books from the library all the time, its just that my wonderful hubby usually picks them up and all I ever see is the outside drop box when I return them.)  Apparently the library has changed a lot during this time and I've become an outdated encyclopedia gathering dust in the stacks.  Here's what bemused me:

1)  I decided I'd actually browse for once and wanted to see if they had any books on the history of ferrets.  I found the pet section easily, but locating the ferret books was another matter.  It would have helped if the section was alphabetized--which it wasn't.  (I can just see my elementary school librarian fainting at the notion.)  There was a huge section on dogs, followed by a smaller one on cats.  Then I found hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits, ferrets and chimpanzees all crammed on one shelf in that order.  Huh?  I stood there for a bit puzzling the logic.  Were they arranged by popularity as pets?  Cuteness?  Odds that one will bite you?  How frequently you will need to clean up their poop?  I left the section shaking my head, fighting the urge reorganize them all.

2) Next I thought I'd look for a book on pirates.  (Hmmm...anyone care to guess what my new manuscript is about?)  I walked through an array of stacks and subjects from mythology to baby name books, but found no pirates.  I even looked in the children's section for some easy-to-digest non-fiction.  Still no pirates!  At that point I located one of the handy-dandy reference computers.  I discovered there were pirate books in the system, they were just all scattered throughout the many libraries of Columbus.  It's not like the library I was visiting had all their pirate books checked out; they simply didn't have any.  (Granted, the library closest to me is on the small side, but it's still big enough that I truly thought they'd have something!)  Apparently you can't just go to a library anymore and expect to find your topic du jour--you must reserve your choices online or embark on a scavenger hunt around the city.  That kind of bummed me out.

3) So while I was growing disappointed in the kid's section, my eyes fell on a row at the back: Audio Books!  I was ecstatic.  My car might be the only one made after 2000 that doesn't have a CD player in it.  As shocking as it may sound, I don't own an ipod either, which means my upcoming drive to Honesdale, PA for the Highlights Workshop is shaping up to be pretty dull.  But if I got some audio books, I could be happily entertained the whole way there!  Thrilled with my brilliant idea, I picked up Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone then frowned.  Why was the case so floppy?  I opened it up to find the book wasn't on tapes--it was on several CD's!  I scanned the section frantically.  All the books were on CD's!  When did that happen?!  I did manage to find a few antique books on clunky tapes in the adult section--real edge-of-your-seat thrillers like the autobiography of Bill Clinton.  I walked away grumbling.  Bill Clinton's life story won't keep me from falling asleep at the wheel and driving off the Pennsylvania mountains.

Dispirited, I decided to throw in the towel and collect my reserves, but the misadventure wasn't over yet.  I scanned the "P" section of the reserves only to find my books had gone AWOL.  There was a Carol Powers and Edward Powers, but no Kathryn Powers.  For several minutes I scoured the display, inspecting the reserves book by book.  I knew I was at the right library; I knew I'd arrived before the delinquency date.  So where were they?!  As I started to make my way to the librarian's desk to demand they stop hiding my books, I passed the "S" section and stopped in my tracks.  I almost smacked myself.  D'oh!  My library card was still under my maiden name!  That's how long I hadn't been to a library.  Feeling moronic, I found my books snug in their proper spot under "Seeberger" and stomped to the check out desk. 

To top it all off, I started scanning my books only to find they wouldn't scan.  I put the barcode under the red light, jiggled it, glared at the back of the book and tried again.  After perhaps a dozen attempts, one of the staff came over to explain I was using the wrong barcode.  "That's the one you'd use if you were buying the book in the store.  It won't work here," she said (I'm sure laughing inwardly to herself).  Sheepish and shamefaced, I mumbled my thanks, finally checked out and made a beeline for the exit. 

Moral of the story?  Don't let half a decade pass in between trips to the library or you will make an utter fool of yourself.  Lesson learned.             

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