Tuesday, 6 January 2015

The Waiting List

Sometimes, the crashingly obvious stumbles around beside me, making all sorts of noise, which I don't notice.

In the autumn or late summer, our local bookshop closed. It was a nice shop, with helpful, intelligent staff - more or less as you'd expect in a bookshop.
I do miss WHSmith though, waiting to sell you a paperback, often two for the price of three, on every corner or at every railway station or airport.

Where was I? Ah yes, Chapters closed. Parking wasn't easy there, it must be said, it was a popular little plaza. Anyway, it closed, which meant that you either had to go to the town centre one, a minuscule jumble of a place, or get on skytrain and go downtown.
And then I discovered the library. I should say, 'discovered'. Alex uses it frequently whenever she's over, as does Laurence. I realised that I hadn't used the library for borrowing fiction since I was a child. My father used to take us to the library in Cosham I think. But since then, I have only used the university libraries when studying - of course my studies were long before you could just get access to everything by internet.

When I was teaching, I would take the classes to what was now a Learning Resource Centre, point out the useful books and places where you could study, even use the computers. Oh, libraries above all else, have evolved, responding to the changing times.

But best of all in our, I have discovered, better than the lovely seating area and the use of magazines
and newspapers, is the waiting list. This pleases me so much. I go online, search for and add the books I want to read. I can be experimental, put books on my waiting list I wouldn't have bought because I'm not sure about them.
I can check in with the waiting list - see where I am in line. And when something is ready to be picked up - I get an e-mail. The only flaw in this is me. I have been so excited about the waiting list, I now have a pile of books to read in a limited time.

It's extraordinary how much this whole library thing fits in with my mindset. I don't have to store them afterwards, just take them back. I don't have to keep a paper list, the library does it for me. I can check out the books for myself, so it takes me less than two minutes to go in to the holding section, run the thing under the scanner and make my escape.

If only they'd invented libraries sooner. And if only they had more paperbacks.

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