Monday, June 20, 2011

Library Tales - The Incomplete Reader

After the library of which I have been a member for more than 5 years decided they could not only be petty, but also remain unapologetic to a long-time customer regarding a mistake made by their staff, I thought I had had enough.

Libraries are far more personal to me than the 'it's just business, we don't really care about you' staff of my previous library can imagine. Going to the library is a trip I always look forward to, making lists in my mind of what books I should look for, saying a little prayer that the book I had long awaited would finally be there for me to take home. And when people make it an unpleasant interaction, well, it's not worth my money.

"Here is where people, one frequently finds, lower their voices and raise their minds" 
- Richard Armour

Therefore, a new library with a fantastic collection of books was found. An interesting experiment has begun, because I chose a temporary membership for a couple of months. This means I cannot borrow books and take them home, but I can read any book I want at the library, leisurely, all day long.

I, who is so used to snuggling on to the couch, lying on my bed, book in hand, a cup of tea beside me, have had to learn to sit up straight in those sturdy chairs.

I, who is so used to throwing down my book on my sofa and walking a few paces to take in a major plot twist, has had to sit and stare at the book and utter a sigh, at most.

I, who is so used to picking any book, whenever I want, has had to understand the knack of picking smaller books that can be finished in one sitting. Or choosing huge reference books and taking notes from them.

I have also started learning the art of putting a half-finished book in a shelf where I hope none of the full-time members will find it and take it home. Placing the book in the lowest shelf, in the belief that people will be too lazy to bend down, was a big fiasco. It meant that I had read the charming Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day, for, well, just a day.

There's something rather adventurous about this temporary membership; a far cry from the safe predictability of reading at home. Sure, it is incredibly annoying when the book you loved reading yesterday is missing today and your reading experiences are more incomplete than ever.

But having people immersed in books around you, jotting down notes furiously, lips moving silently with a book of Keats' poetry in hand, is a rather wonderful thing to see. I'm ever fascinated to see what everyone around me is reading (which is one of the reasons I love book blogging and Goodreads). Sometimes, seeing a wide smile on a person's face as their eyes drink in the pages of a book, is as lovely as reading a good book myself.


Patricia's Particularity said...

I am apauled at that library that couldn't show you the time of day. Having a Masters in Library Science myself I am personally offended. What a wonderful post, showing the good sides of libraries, those that are nice. I do hope you get a full time membership!

<3 Happy Reading!
Patricia @ Patricia's Particularity

Patricia's Particularity said...

Also, love the bag!! Where can I find one to buy one!!!???

Kals said...

Patricia - Welcome to my blog and thank you for your lovely comment! I hope this library will more than make up for how insensitive the last one was :)

I found the bag here: I haven't bought it myself, but would love too. It has a great quote!

indrablog said...

Nice post. Here in Bangalore, you have a chain of libraries, Just Read, which offers good membership schemes. I don't have any library membership because I am slow reader. But not having a membership has left me waiting to buy the book I had been awating last two years - River of Smoke, Amitava Ghosh - as at Rs. 700, it's slightly heavy on the pocket given that it's of the month. Are you reading the book? I am beginning to like visiting your space.

Anonymous said...

Loved this post! :)
I was a member of a library back in school, but then stopped going there because the collection was too outdated, and because my reading got slower and slower due to career and studies and all that. Used to love my library visits, and hence, could totally relate to this post.

I would love to go back to a library again, but I am not sure how it will work out - I am used to reading at home, much like what you have mentioned, going back and forth between books and other household tasks. I should give it a try, though. Should be fun, after years.

Kals said...

Indrablog - Thank you! No, I haven't read Amitava Ghosh at all so I cannot help you with that. But he has got several excellent reviews.

Thegalnxtdoor - Thanks so much :)I think all of us bookworms have fond library memories. I totally agree that the comfort of reading at home, at our own pace and ease is hard to grow out of :)But libraries may be an interesting change for you, so do give it a try if you can!

Mel u said...

Sadly here in Manila we have some of the biggest plushest malls in the world but sadly we have no public libraries, membership or otherwise!

Vaishnavi said...

I love visiting the British Council Library here in Chennai. This was a lovely post to read! Hope you get full membership :)

Kals said...

Thank you :) I hope so! And great to see you back btw.

Anonymous said...

Which library is this that you have joined?

In Bangalore, my favorite library is Eloor Library with a wonderful collection of books, and pretty knowledgeable staff.

Unfortunately, it was a bit too far from my new house and I had to shift to Just Books, which is not a bad library. But the book selection is nowhere close to Eloor's.

Kals said...

The British Council Library :)

Ah Eloor. I've been a member there. It is expensive, the staff is dont-care-ish because they know they have an excellent collection of books. Not worth the money though, esp with the horrendous cost of 'late' fines. IMO of course.


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