18 May 2013

Is your library like this?

I was browsing book-related channels on YouTube because I might start doing videos myself, and I ran across this one by Leena on the channel Just Kiss My Frog. I'm not sure if I agree fully with Leena's attitudes, but I had to share it. Basically, it is a rant about how her local library has turned into a community center instead of a place where you can find books. I've heard of libraries doing this to attract more patrons and justify their funding. With the advent of e-readers, many libraries have turned into way-stations where you can use the internet or find a meeting space for a club rather than actually having shelves and shelves of physical books.

To be honest, I haven't spent an extended amount of time in my local library branches in quite a while. We've developed a routine wherein I request whatever books the family wants online and my husband goes to pick them up on Tuesdays. Between my husband's work schedule and the reduced hours the library instituted a few years ago, finding time to browse shelves in the library is difficult. From what I can tell online, however, I don't think that our library system has decreased the amount of books available. They have managed to add newer genres like graphic novels without completely eliminating the classics.

One statement Leena made at the beginning of the video did ring true with me. She said that her local library used to seem like magic to her, and I remember having a similar feeling as a kid. Generally, I am a person who looks forward and believes that my kids have more advantages than I had, but this is one area where I think they are missing out. They haven't had the experience of roaming through the library and picking books at random. I discovered so many authors because I had the time to browse the shelves, pick a book, and then sit down and read a few pages before I took it home to see if it was to my liking. My kids just seem to read whatever I or their teachers recommend rather than browsing and discovering books for themselves. For them, a library that is more of a community center might be appealing.

QUESTION: Is your public library more of a home for books or a community meeting place?


Allyson said...

Yes, our local libraries have moved toward the community centre feel. That itself doesn't bother me; I like that the books are being used heavily. For some things, in some branches (like DVDs) there is almost nothing left to browse on the shelves. So, you really do have to browse the online catalog and request (they have cover pics so that helps).

It frustrates me, however, that they don't have a good cataloging system! I still find books on the shelf that (I feel) should have come up on searches, but didn't. And they have lots of books that are cataloged as "adult paperback" so are not searchable.

Allyson said...

Further, they've been opening more, smaller, local branches, so, overall, they're greatly improving availability. The new branch opened less than a mile from us. And then we moved. Then they opened a new branch less than a mile from us. So now we're moving again. (It'll be slightly more than a mile from the new place.) My kids may have to request the books online, but they can walk over and pick them up themselves. There are over 20 libraries in the system that share books, so availability is really quite good.

Dani S said...

Allyson, my kids could walk to the library when they were in middle school because the small branch was right across the street from their school, which is two miles away from our house. They have walked home from school in a pinch, but there isn't quite enough sidewalk coverage here for me to feel comfortable with them making that trip regularly.

I also wondered about the library system of the girl in the video. Here, as at your library, we can request books from any of the 10 branches in the county. Even though my branch tends to only carry the hot YA books (probably because they are across the street from the middle school), that doesn't mean we can't get our hands on a volume of Shakespeare. We just have to plan ahead.

Allyson said...

I had to update after visiting the newest library. I must admit, I did find it disturbing how few shelves were in the library, and, even more, that most of them were on wheels! Over 3/4 of the shelves could be wheeled off to the side for a large event. I'm sure I'll get used to it, but I did find it odd!