Bingo Square: Get a New Library Card
To my great shame, I haven’t properly browsed a library since 2012. Sure, I’ve made the odd tourist stop to the New York Public Library (so beautiful I could die) and the sleek San Francisco Public Library, but I haven’t used a library card since April of 2012.
Why then? Well, that was when I stopped working at my local library.
The two years I spent working for a library were the most strained, busy and just oddest times of my life. I was working 7 days a week at some points, doing the library gig every Friday, Saturday and Sunday (bye bye, social life). You’d think that working in a library would be a nice, peaceful job, so despite my heavy schedule I could relax while working there. You’d be wrong.
Sure, there were quiet times at the library, but we were often understaffed and the library was located in a downtown metro area – read: very high traffic. It was unsettling to experience the amount of weird, despicable or obnoxious behavior I saw while working at the library. People pooped on the floor. Defaced the bathrooms. Stole things – lots of things. And not to mention the fights I’d get in over $1 fines. And of course there was that one time a patron screamed, I tell you, screamed at me “You’re a servant, you’ll do as you’re told.”
All this might lead you to think that my years at the library were so unnerving that that’s what has kept me from going back. In a way, it is – working there cured my taste for, say, ever using a public computer again (let’s just say, “Ew,” and move on). But really, honestly, the real reason I haven’t graced a library account system with my presence has been since working at the library, I’ve gotten lazy about reading.
While there, I was constantly surrounded by literature (duh) – it was easy to get recommendations from my colleagues, or have something catch my eye while I was shelving books. Once literature was less in my face, I started to get apathetic about reading.
That’s why I’m here, that’s why I started this project with Erin and Jessi. That’s why I spent a Saturday afternoon perusing my new local library, with my shiny new library card.
Libraries will never be the same for me – that’s for damn sure. But really, the experience just served to solidify the deep, enduring fondness and respect I have for libraries and librarians. Wandering the stacks, even as a the aforementioned tourist, is a joyful experience – and there’s something just damn comforting about the Dewey Decimal system.
The library is the greatest thing in the world – the written word, free, at your fingertips.
You can be sure to find me browsing the Orange County Public Library system often in the near future.
A parting word: be sure to love your local library workers. They put up with shit- literally (on my weekend excursion, the poor staff was dealing with restroom overflow. Ugh). And they’re often the greatest people you’ll ever meet.