Library Woes

In the spirit of decluttering and living with less, I’ve been purging all my belongings that don’t have a purpose or mean something to me. It’s felt great to get rid of things that I’ve just been lugging around for years. The hardest part has, naturally, been my books.

For a long time, I was acquiring books at a ridiculous rate. I mean, I wasn’t buying hundreds of books, but I was certainly buying books just because they caught my eye. And then never reading them. Which, for me, is ridiculous. I just can’t afford the money or the space it takes to continue down that path. And it’s not in line with my goals of a more simple, peaceful life.

Anyway, I went through my nearly 500 books and divided them up into groups: those that HAD to stay, those that should really go, and those I was unsure about. I took a bunch of the rejects to a used bookstore, others to donate to the library, and the remainder are slowly trickling out via BookMooch.com. For those that I knew I wanted to keep, I made the decision to find nicer editions that I could be proud of- they didn’t have to be expensive, but they should reflect how much the book meant to me.

The other part of the plan involves utilizing my public library more frequently. Being an insatiable reader, one could assume that I’m a huge fan of the library. They would be wrong. I have an extremely antagonistic relationship with it. For most of my life I have been an acquirer of books- I wanted to possess them rather than read them and give them back. When thought about rationally, this makes no sense because there is nothing to stop me purchasing a book if I really love it AFTER having borrowed it from the library. But, when it comes to books, I have rarely been rational.

One of the main things I hate about our local library is the selection. They have all the mysteries and blockbusters to satisfy that type of reader but, more often than not, they wouldn’t have what I was looking for. And they couldn’t get it for me either. The library for my county is in a system with several other local county libraries and they, ostensibly, share books. The problem for me is that the library in my county is the nicest, most well-stocked in the system, so… if they don’t have it, it’s almost a sure bet that I can’t get it. And even if I could, it would cost me money: 50 cents to request the book and about $2.50 to mail the damn thing back to the library it came from. Idiotic.

When I lived in Austin, TX, everything changed. I was much more strapped for cash at the time because I was only working part-time in order to spend the majority of my time interning with a humanitarian group. Given the MUCH higher cost of living than what I had been accustomed to- I went from 500 sqft for $400 a month to 300 sqft for $900 a month- and the fact that Austin was probably not a long-term placement, I was trying not to buy books. So, I turned to the library. The spectacular Austin Public Library System.

The entire library system is integrated. Basically you find the branch most convenient for you and they will deliver any book from any library to that branch for you to pick up. And you can reserve many, many books at one time- I think 20 was the most I ever had on reserve. Once the books become available, from any library, they email you and you pick it up at your local branch. For free. As in, freeeeeeee.

So, I became a library fan just in time to move back here. Where the library does not have any book I can think of. Or share nicely. Boo. But, I’ve got to make an effort to utilize the library more if I’m going to stop buying unnecessary books. The Magician King by Lev Grossman, the sequel to a book I loved and hated in almost equal measure, is coming out in a few weeks. I refuse to buy it before reading it because the last one went so bad in the end. This was the perfect chance to give the library another shot. So, I hopped on the website to see when it would be available.

And that’s when I saw it. A button marked HOLD. It had never been there before. I was SO EXCITED. Things were finally looking up for me and the library. So I quickly placed a hold on the book and tried to contain my excitement. Then I saw I had an overdue fee from a year ago and that my card needed renewing within the week. Ugh. So I ran by the library this afternoon and paid my $1.80 and renewed my card.

I then asked how they would let me know the book I’d put on hold had come in. And the librarian looked at me like I was speaking gibberish. I told her I’d reserved a book online and just didn’t know how they would contact me. She said that shouldn’t be possible. We both just blinked at each other. So she calls over another librarian and they confer about it. Yes, there’s my reservation in the system. No, no one told them this feature was working. It wasn’t supposed to work. Apparently ever. We all just scratched our heads, me rather irritably, and they took my information down on a piece of paper and told me they’d call me.

And then they reminded me to bring 50 cents with me when I picked up the book. Because that’s how much it costs for them to hold a book.

Right. I had started to think we were in the modern age. But apparently not. Oh well… the library woes continue.

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8 thoughts on “Library Woes

  1. I hated The Magicians too…but I am equally curious about The Magician King. I don’t know why! I was so turned off by the first book – I hated almost everything about it, but for some strange reason, I want to read this second book because I want to know what happened to those annoying characters from the first book. Hahaha….

    • Haha. I actually loved the first half of The Magicians. There were moments of mild dislike in that bit, but mostly I thought it was wonderful. And then the second half blew my mind… in the very worst way. It was just so completely god-awful. Really really bad. Foul language that didn’t feel edgy but just annyoing and gross, characters behaving so completely slovenly and reproachfully that I could barely tolerate them, and a plot that was virtually unfollowable. It was like two COMPLETELY different books. Seriously bad.

      Which, naturally, means I am clamoring to read the sequel to see if the things I liked about the first part come back into it or if it’s just a total waste of paper and ink.

      PS: LOVE your handle! (And your tagline) πŸ˜‰

  2. lol..thanks πŸ™‚ Yes, I that’s how I felt about it too. The book did have potential in the beginning, and even though it got pretty bad towards the end, I did read it all the way through, just because I still wanted to know how it would end. And now, I know I’m gonna read The Magician King and will probably regret that too. What suckers we are *sigh* πŸ™‚

    • Have you, by any chance, heard of LibraryThing.com? It’s my favorite book site. It perfectly accommodates my desire to catalog and organize my reading and my personal library while also having a WONDERFUL community of readers who talk books (and lots of other things) constantly. I’ve learned about sooooo many books through the site. You should check it out if you haven’t already. (I’m atlargeintheworld over there.)

  3. Yes, I’ve heard of LibraryThing, but I don’t have an account yet. I’m on goodreads and shelfari. I will check it out, thanks πŸ™‚ The thing with book sites is, I get really excited in the beginning uploading my books, but after I while I get bored of it, so my accounts don’t get updated all the time.

    • I was worried when I first signed up that that might be the case, but it hasn’t been. Probably because I visit the site everyday to check the Talk threads- there is always something interesting being discussed. So while I’m there I update what I’m reading etc. It also helps that new features are constantly coming out that gives me another way to look at my catalog which means I’m constantly tweaking things to reflect that. It’s wonderful. However, if you aren’t so enthralled with catalog data it might not be as appealing.

      Do Shelfari and Goodreads have Talk threads?

  4. Shelfari and Goodreads do have some threads, but I don’t really get on them. In Shelfari, you can choose the topics and categories you like, and the threads you will follow, that way you won’t get bogged down with notices of new updates all the time. I’m more active in Shelfari as far as threads go, but I don’t know why I can’t get into forums much.

  5. Pingback: Just a list of some interesting blogs or articles I’ve been reading lately… | A Searching Librarian

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