Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Library Musings

Every now and then I get the urge to lob a Molotov cocktail into this quaint little tea party of a blog.

One of these days I will indulge that urge. Tonight, however, I am serving yet another petit four.

The kids and I went to our county library today because the book I sought was not available at our township library. It was to be a quick surgical strike of a visit. I've long since given up hope of being able to linger thoughtfully amidst the stacks, perusing title after title until something catches my fancy. Outside of the children's section, there's simply no point in going if I don't know what I want ahead of time.

Once I found my book, Allie and I engaged in our usual game of "chase the giggling toddler while child-free patrons cast annoyed glances our way." To their credit, the kids were extremely well behaved once we got to the children's section. I love watching them sit quietly at one of those tiny tables, completely engrossed as they flip the pages of their books -- as if they were actually reading them.

As we checked out our books, I was delighted to see the library slam her date stamp on the sticker affixed to the back of each book. The new fancy-pants library in our township uses electronic self-checkout. The computer spits out a receipt that lists the books checked out and their due dates. Efficient, yes, but lacking the delightful sense of history the stamped dates impart. I love patching together a book's borrow-timeline -- the last time the book was checked out, how many times it’s been checked out, the gaps between dates. The book I checked out today, for example, was last borrowed over a year ago. In a bizarre bit of anthropomorphizing, I feel as I'm somehow making this book less lonely.

For the children's books, I enjoy seeing how many other kids have read, and enjoyed, the same books my kids will be reading. Frayed pages, taped seams, and random scribbles may make a book appear shabby, but they also indicate how well a book has been loved by successions of children over the years. I like that my children are part of that lineage.

Another cup of tea, anyone?