Tag Archives: libraries

To See Libraries Again

A glorious thought came to me today while I sighed in frustration at the lack of immediately available titles on my library app: in less than a week, I will have access to libraries again. 

I think this past semester represents the longest I have ever gone without accessing a physical library

Not that Thammasat University does not have libraries. Oh, it does. But like access to the WiFi, the office never quite got around to giving me access to them. You need to swipe your permanent ID card to get in. I asked for one. They promised it would come. And…nothing happened. (Incidentally, did I mention I’m still waiting for that take home midterm worth 25% of my grade? Any day now, folks.) 

I stepped foot inside the law library a few times because a fellow student offered to vouch for me to the librarian guarding the front desk. Honestly, with an English section taking up about as much room as the Spanish section at your local library, I did not miss much. I already own quite a few of the volumes. (Water Law in India, Second Edition being a particular favorite.) But it is the principle of the thing. I need to breathe in books! 

(In full confession mode, lack of libraries does not mean lack of books. I’m rounding out this semester so far with 160 books read since January. Not knowing anyone really provides lots of free time for reading.) 

I Want To Be The Library Legend

Although my visits to my hometown library have occurred with increased irregularity over the years, I like to think I still hold a special place in the librarians’ hearts. When I am in town and putting a dozen books on hold, I like to think they pause as they gather them and say,

“Oh, Amy is back in town.”

And they know it is me because who else would put so many books on hold?

Well, for all I know, everyone. But it seems somewhat unusual based on the library habits of those around me. 

Over the years, some librarians come and some go and I know the memory of me will fade. That is why I like to imagine my legend continues. Like a ghost that haunts the library and puts things on hold every few months. Except I’m not dead. 

Library Turnaround

Yesterday I decided to do my perennial book-check at the library and ran my latest batch of to-reads through the library system. Found one…placed a hold. Found another…placed a hold. 

10 holds later I decided to stop looking. What a find! 3 hours later, 6 of the books were “Shipped” and the remaining 4 had moved to “Pending.” 

I love how fast libraries get me my holds. It used to be a 3 day affair. Now it barely takes 24 hours. Did all libraries become this efficient or just mine? 

Interactions With Loquacious, Linguistic Stranger

Today’s adventure in stranger danger brought to you by the Madison Public Library. 

Frankly, I consider it remarkable self control that I have been in Madison almost 3 weeks and yet managed to resist visiting the public library until today. (If you want something even more incredible, I spent an hour there and didn’t leave with a single book.) However, today I broke down and decided a trip to the library was in order. 

The visit started off normally. I picked up my library card, checked out the Young Adult section (disappointing), and was pleasantly surprised by the Adult Fiction selection (so many Georgette Heyer books! And mysteries!) My meandering eventually led me to the foreign language section. The Madison Public Library has an impressive selection of foreign language material, ranging from Czech and Yiddish to Russian and Mandarin Chinese. I was standing there admiring it when a guy somewhere in his mid 20’s came rushing around the corner. At first glance I assumed he was just really eager to find a book. Then he said, 

“Ahhhhh, ummm, are you looking for anything in particular?” 

He didn’t look like a librarian, so I just smiled politely and told him I was ‘just browsing.’

“Ahhh….yes….” a long pause, “I’m teaching myself German.” 

I must have smiled or in someway acknowledged this remark because, after another pause, he rushed on. “Ah, I have already taught myself Norwegian and French. I mean Portuguese.  Eventually I am going to learn Greek and Lithuanian and French and…and Latin.” 

Feeling this sudden confession deserved a response, I responded, “This library has a very large selection. I am sure that helps.” 

“It does! They have so many languages.” And he proceeded to list all of the ones around us. “Oh, by the way, I’m Dave.” 

“Amy,” I said, wondering where all this was going. Was he going to try and sell me something? 

“Yes…ahh, nice to meet you. This is a very good section. Look, they even have Yiddish. And Japanese. Lots of novels in Japanese.  I went to college in Oshkosh. I took Spanish there. Like two years of it. I’ve lived in Madison two years. Oh look, there is Hindi.” 

He continued to ramble, primarily about languages. He told me he considered learning languages on his own way more efficient than learning it in a class, because this way he didn’t have to take quizzes. He mentioned an interest in Italian. This went on for at least ten minutes. By this point, I realized he probably wasn’t trying to sell me anything and he definitely didn’t work for the library. I found his linguistic claims doubtful but listened politely. Looking back now, the situation doesn’t seem at all that intimidating (if anything, rather funny) but I felt uncomfortable and decided to trust my gut. I told him I was headed downstairs to look at the children’s section. He offered to show me the way and as soon as possible, I slipped out of the building. 

And so for the second time in two days, I have had an unusual run-in with a complete stranger. I wonder if it will ever stop being a little weird? It is hard to find a balance between wariness and warmth.  I want to be approachable, and yet I also want to be smart about it.

Young Adult Literature – PG or PG13?

I was around 12 when I made the “jump” (as I considered it) from the Juvenile Fiction section of the library to the Young Adult side. Besides a geographical relocation, the biggest impact of the move was that I now had to be extra careful with the books I selected. Compared to Juvenile Fiction (where anything besides a chaste kiss would have been shocking), the Young Adult books I perused seemed chalk full of sex, language, and dark, mature content. Where I once read broadly from all genres and authors, I now tiptoed, jumping from safe series (like the Hardy Boys Classified) to familiar authors (like Jessica Day George). In fact, it wasn’t until college that I fully embraced YA as a genre and felt comfortable trying books at random.  It seems silly now, but at the time this search for “safety” involved quite a bit of soul searching and boundary stretching on my part. 

Part of what got me reading YA broadly was that I moved libraries. The tiny, local library in Dayton, TN didn’t have the resources for a kids’ section and a teens’ section. The result was a sort of hodgepodge of the two, broadly called “Young Adult.” A part of me always felt they got it wrong. Either you have “clean” books, or you don’t. You can’t mix them. 

However, looking at it now, I’ve started to wonder about my definition of “young adult.” I’ve always considered it like a PG13 movie rating. When you enter, you go in with the knowledge that there is “mature content ahead.” Many books I’ve seen placed in YA recently seem to belong to the more innocuous PG rating, however. It is somewhat more mature than a G rating (or traditional Juvenile Fiction), but comparatively clean. Or perhaps they are just coming of age stories a grade schooler wouldn’t find interesting, particularly if it contains older characters or more subtle themes. 

I suppose the YA genre is a mix of PG and PG13, though it still seems like a nuanced jump to me. How would you define YA? Do you have a particular way of categorizing it in your mind?

Book Therapy

I have been fairly faithful at sticking to my promise to not get more books from the library until I finish the ones I have out already. Sure, I bought a book and convinced my Mom to pick up a hold for me, but for the most part, I consider the past week or so a triumph. Until today. This morning was weird and frustrating and I desperately wanted to let off steam…so I went to the library and checked out 12 books.

All I can say is that there are worse ways to handle stress. 


My local library shared this picture and I really love it. It is exactly what I was thinking about today.