Do you love your library? I bet you do. If you read yesterday's post, you'll have noticed that I'm having a rather soppy new love affair with my community library, which took me by surprise. Mercifully, a mere ten months after quitting my job IN a public library, I think I'm finally ready to think of the library as a place again without wanting to throw up. We're really making progress.
As I can now think more clearly about libraries, I thought it might be a good time to share some suggestions for library use that I would hope make our libraries better for everyone.* Of course, as most of you are readers and, judging from your comments, quite interesting and kind people as well, I realize that in offering this list of suggestions I'm largely preaching to the choir. But that's okay. Sometimes one wants to preach to the converted, just for a break from preaching to the unconverted, who never listen anyway.
Citizen Reader's Suggestions for Loving Your Library**:
1. As you browse the shelves, don't be afraid to straighten the books up in a generally tidy kind of way. I'm not suggesting you shelve or put things in order or strain yourself to get to a shelf you can't reach or do this with every shelf you browse. But doesn't it feel good when you look at a shelf of books falling over and in general disorder, and then you give them a gentle push against the shelf side and smartly tap the bookend in place against a newly straight row of books? Think how nice things would look if everyone tidied one shelf as they looked around.
2. On a related note, teach your child (when they reach a suitable age) to take out a book, look at it, put it back, and then go on to the next book, as opposed to pulling every book off every shelf in reach and then piling them on the floor. Library staff members are not your maids or your kids' mommies. Likewise, trash receptacles exist solely to collect your trash--make use of them rather than leaving food wrappers, scrap papers, and used kleenexes (and even, in some libraries--condoms and drug paraphenalia) around the library.
3. On a note related to that, PLEASE WATCH YOUR OWN CHILDREN WHEN IN THE LIBRARY. At least 80% of my reason for quitting last year was because I literally didn't have the heart to run out from behind the counter and yank any more toddlers back in the doors (and away from the parking lot, a few steps away), only to return them to mommies who never, ever said "thank you" for it.
4. Pay your fines. If you don't want to pay fines, return your books on time. You're not going to find a better deal than that anywhere.
5. Wash your hands and train your kids to wash their hands both before and after all of you visit the public library. I'm usually not a germ-o-phobe but you'll feel better about the library if you don't get a cold after visiting it.
Now, you'll excuse me? I'm off to use the library, but I have to wash my hands first.
*Okay, most of these would really make life better for library staff members. But wouldn't it be nice to make someone's day, even if it's just a lowly library worker's?
**How's about it? Anyone else got any suggestions they'd like to add to my list?