Thursday, November 28, 2013

6 Things You Probably Don't Know About the Library.

Today in my teenage angst, I admit a lot of defeat. My ability to be consistent in writing pieces for this blog is apparently non-existent. This has been a weird and difficult semester. I've been doing this (being school) for a while, but for some reason have never felt quite the academic taxation that this semester has presented. Despite this, I'm doing okay - academically that is. Enough of that, though. I've been planning this post for a while so let's get at it!

6 Things You Probably Don't Know About Public Libraries
In no particular order:
This is my library under construction in 1913 - via
1. The people who work there are not all librarians. 
Do you know what it requires to become a librarian? Do you have any idea the things that librarians are required to know!?!? My friend Jamie is a librarian of the Archivist persuasion and I honestly just cannot fathom the things she knows and how she retains them. My former boss is the assistant head librarian and everytime I think, "I don't know about {insert literally anything}", the thought is followed by, "I should ask Sheila. Sheila will know." A few weeks ago our website disappeared for no particular reason and she built it back and rewrote a lot of the code in two hours. She is so legit. The rest of us, however, know a lot about the library elements of circulation and aquisitions and organization and maybe programming. But we are not librarians. 

2. We do not have a hierarchy of 'Good Literature'. 
In fact! We are more likely to promote literacy, than the literature itself. We have all the classics. Guaranteed. Some of our copies are even really beautiful. But I'm not going to look at you, checking out Fifty Shades, differently than the next person checking out Pride and Prejudice. Reading is reading, yo! That's what matters. 

3. Our collection is built, based on what people read.
In our library, people really like Real Crime, Cookbooks, Self-Help, and Crafts (obviously among others). And that, my friends, is what we buy. My dear friend Walter (blessed 17 year old from Great Britain) raises chickens. My response to learning this fact was, "of course he does." Our collection contains only a handful of books about raisin chickens and Walter complains about this on a weekly basis. Every week, my response is, "who else is going to check them out, Walt? Who else?" No one, that's who. In contrast to this, we own four copies of the autobiography of a local supposed murderer. At least one is always checked out. That's what people read; and that is what we have. 

4. We don't have a silence policy! 
This is good news for your eight month old who has just discovered their vocal cords. But seriously, library spaces today are often much more like library commons. Come! Bring your friends! Sit down! Have a conversation! But don't bring your coffee. We do have a liquids policy. Spoiler alert, I don't follow it. Oops. 

5. We have movies! And magazines! And videogames!
We really do have videogames. For like six different consoles! We do not however buy games above a T rating, so I'm sorry if you're hoping to get to play Black Ops (is that a video game?) for free.
When Block Buster (is that one word? Blockbuster? It's been too long, I can't remember) went out of our town, I wasn't sad at all. The library legitimately has so many movies it's like shopping at a Blockbuster, but free. It's not just movies. We have endless shelves of TV series. Like, I'm not kidding, everything you could want. Ask me a title. I bet we have it. 
And Magazines!!! Who buys these things anyway? Okay, I do. But there's legit no need. We have subscriptions to over one hundred* magazine titles. It is through access to these magazines that I've gotten to know Martha Stewart, gained immeasurable motivation to run through Runner's World, and have been introduced to the world of BUST Magazine. Thank goodness for that. 

6. We don't have everything, but we can get you almost anything. 
Even if it's not in the provincial system, the Library will pay to have it brought in from a library that does have it. I oversaw the lady, who is in charge of this, ordering a book from Missouri. Or Louisana. Somewhere in the deep south. We will legitimately go that far. Other libraries are just like ours, you know? They build their collection on what's popular and what their patrons read. Maybe a library in Nova Scotia has a large readership of chicken raising manuals. Or maybe a library in Quebec has that super early Songs for Jane album (oh man Adam Levine you were so funny when you were little) that you really really need. If we don't have it, but you want it, we will try and get it for you. And let us! That's what we're there for. 

Go to your public library. They are so important. Neil Gaiman wrote a really beautiful and long speech about it. I know that a lot of people just like to buy the books or borrow them from someone who does, but just go anyway. Sit down, read a magazine, and enter into the wondeful and long standing tradition of your local public library. 

* That number is not accurate. I don't know how many we have, but I overheard that number once so that's what I'm going with.