Friday, July 20, 2012

Lovely Libraries

My Old Library
We moved recently, so I can't boast that I live near the oldest library in Maine anymore, but it was my library for twleve years. The front desk was a large desk in the middle of a smallish room lined with bookshelves. There was another smallish room in the the back lined with children's books. The checkout system involved pulling the library card from the back. There was an honest to goodness card catalog with cards typed out on a typewriter. It was like stepping back in time. It rarely had the books I wanted to read, but I loved that library.

We're on vacation this week, so of course we've visited two different libraries. We're just that kind of family. Holy macaroni! They are so cool! My sister and her kids took us. The return room in the first library is made out of glass so you can look in and see the whole return process. You place your book in the slot marked "book return" and it zooms down a conveyor belt and passes through a laser. The laser reads the bar code to check the book back in and to decide which bin the book belongs in.   The rollers on the belt lift up and another set of rollers slide the book off the belt and into the correct bin. If the book has a hold on it, a printer prints up a slip and a librarian takes the book directly to the "holds" area.

But the fun doesn't end there! Oh no. Then I got to go looking for books. So many shelves! Even though I'm reasonably well versed in the world of books, there were so many I'd never heard before. How many can I read while I'm on a crazy busy family visiting vacation? Certainly not the 8 that I picked out. But still...
The Fountain of Books Accidentally Left Behind
Then the real excitement begins. Using my sister's library card (shhh!!!! don't tell the library please!) my kids and I placed our books four at a time on this metal scale looking thing, and the names of the books popped onto a screen! It was magic.

And the next week, we did it again at a different library, with an even better selection of books. That time, my nephew bagged all the books he wanted and threw the bag on the scale, and the computer read them! And then we sat near a spectacular fountain right outside, and that bag got left on the far side, where we'd never notice it. Some kind soul noticed, and when we returned several hours later, the bag was waiting with the incredibly patient librarian.

I love libraries for everything they do to make my world a brighter place. That's probably why I sat in the bookstore today and cried when I read The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore  by William Joyce. Libraries come in all shapes and sizes. I'm much too tired to help you out, but if you look on the side bar, I even wrote a post about Maine's amazing Books By Mail program. Do you have a story about a library in your life?
I've never actually seen this library before, but I'd sure like to.
It's in Kansas City.


  1. Have you seen the Oscar winning animated short based on Joyce's book? It's FANTASTIC!

    I have a link to it on my blog:

  2. Thanks for the link! I enjoyed your blog post about it, Adam, but the movie has been taken off of youtube, unfortunately. Hopefully I can get it from netflix when I'm home from vacation. I'd never even heard of the story before, which is kind of hard to believe, considering how popular it has turned out to be.

  3. I love libraries too. Most of the books I read come from libraries. I used to live near a small but charming library. Now I live near one that is more functional than beautiful, but it has a lot more books. I love how the parking lot is always pretty full every time I go. It is just great that so many people are reading.

    Great post!!

  4. I'm always surprised (and secretly delighted) by the number of kids and teenagers at our library. When I was in school, the library was lame, and there weren't many people that wanted to meet up there. Now it's a haven, and I'm so glad. It means kids are reading and ( more importantly) staying out of trouble.

  5. I love libraries in all forms. Magic. It's long been my goal as a writer to have a book with my name on it on a library shelf.

    Hope you have a great vacation.


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