Library Adventures…

Tuesday, after the fabulous H-Town downtown blogger lunch, I had to go to the library to do research for a case that is going to trial soon. When was the last time you visited a library? I’ve gone to them a few times in the past 10 years, but always to just check out a book or two and go home. Nothing extensive, and I normally know what book I need before I even walk in the door. I have never visited the main branch of the Houston Public Library here in downtown. I’ve lived here for the most part since 1985 – but the Harris County Library is right by home, so why go downtown? And I haven’t spent hours on end doing research in a library since I was in college in 1990 – and a lot has changed since then. It was an interesting adventure, to say the least.

When I arrived, I went straight to the information desk. I gave her a brief summary of the obscure data I was looking for, and she sent me up to the business section on the second floor. I know I was the research librarians dream at that moment – I headed straight to the desk and asked for help. I swear, there was a sparkle in her eye as she took me to the SRIs (Statistical Research Index) and showed me how to look up the information I needed. Then it was over to the microfiche drawers to pull what I needed from them.

All seemed to be going really well up to this point. Then it all changed. First of all, they don’t take coins in most of the machines anymore – you have to find the machine that dispenses a plastic card that you can add money to as you need it. I’m a fairly intelligent person, I like to think. That machine almost beat me though. Even worse was the microfiche machine. I had to check out a lens, then find a lens that would work with the machine.

Once I finally got everything set up, I started going through films. Oh my. I forgot that reading things on those machines makes me sick to my stomach! It must be the zoominess of moving from row to row as you search out what you need. Ack! One of the other library patrons actually commented that I looked sick – my cheeks were all pink and flush. I was miserable for the rest of the night.

After I finished with the machines, I went and talked with the librarian again about other research options and I discovered something that is pretty cool and amazing. If you have a library card, you can go online and find all sorts of things on their website! They have a lot of the periodicals online, so I could find articles that weren’t available on the microfiche. Absolutely amazing – where was this when I was in college?

Being an information junkie, I had to head down to the main desk to pick up a library card all my own. Even though I don’t live in the Houston city limits, the cards are free for any resident in the state of Texas. How did I miss the fact that this whole wealth of information was right under my nose all this time?

With my fresh library card in hand, I wandered through the fiction section on the main floor where they have a sampling of titles from other sections. It took all the strength I had left (after the whole tummy issue thanks to the microfiche machine) to not check out 20 books to read. Instead, I limited myself to three, which is probably more than I can read considering all the bookrings I have signed up for over at BookCrossing. It was really cool to walk in to the room and see Cory Doctorow’s “Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom” standing up on display on the shelves – so cool, I actually stopped to take a picture of it! (Yes, I’m a dork. I’m well aware of it.)

I realized something as I left the library. As much as I love bookstores, I love the library even more. I don’t know why I have been avoiding them for all these years. When I was a girl, my elementary school was next door to the Kankankee Public Library and I used to go there all the time. It is such a pure delight to walk through the aisles, picking through all the books available for me to read and absorb and learn from. So much knowledge, so many words – it is almost intoxicating. Have you visited your local library lately? I know I will be returning to mine very soon!

Books, books, books – what wonderful things books are! Have you read any good books lately?

By Christine

Christine is an Avenger of Sexiness. Her Superpower is helping Hot Mamas grow their Confidence by rediscovering their Beauty. She lives in the Heights in Houston, Texas, works as a boudoir photographer, and writes about running a Business of Awesome. In her spare time, she loves to knit, especially when she travels. She & her husband Mike have a food blog at Spoon & Knife.

19 replies on “Library Adventures…”

I just read the newest Lois McMaster Bujold, _Paladin of Souls_–it was amazing.

I use my local branch library all the time. I can’t afford to buy a lot of books anymore, so I’ve become a huge fan of using their online catalog to browse books and make reservations from home. My sole gripe is that they won’t do out of state ILLs for fiction books–it’s an arbitrary distinction they’ve made to cut costs.

i’m with Theresa on that one – i’d rather keep my books after i’ve read them… i don’t even resell mine to Half Price Books or something like that. and i’m very anal about keeping my book nice and crisp – as if it’s never been touched.

I visit the 29 Palms Base library ALL the time. You can’t beat free books to read! Besides I don’t believe in keeping a book to oneself. It’s almost tragic. I love to be able to share with someone else the wonderful story I have found and read. Especially when you find that book that becomes a top five and you give it up for someone else to read. You and that other person [or persons] almost become these kindred spirits. No one should cage the spirit of a book. Those words were meant to be shared with the world not dying a dusty shelf.

Back when I first moved to LA about 10 years ago, I got a library card. I checked out a book, didn’t return it on time, and owed a balance of $3.85.

About two months ago I decided to start taking the girls (2½ years old) to the library to have quiet reading time, and to pick out books to take home. They’re totally into (pre-)reading (or being read to – either way).
So now we have one day a week when we go to the library, and it’s very special and we build it up to be a big deal. They walk in and go SHHH with their finger over their lips.

Plus the advantage for me is that with school (child development major) and the library date with the girls, it affords me the opportunity to go in and pick up books that have been invaluable in writing lesson plans and presenting projects.

And I totally agree that books are meant to be shared. It’s a lesson that I’m teaching the girls – that even though they love a book, we can enjoy it at home for a little while then take it back so another kid can take it home and enjoy it too. A perfect lesson in sharing!!

i just finished Second Helpings, the sequel to Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty. lovedlovedloved both books… reads like a journal/blog! now i’m starting The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. i wonder if it’s anything like The Divine Secret of the Ya-Ya sisterhood. loved that book, too!

Amber, it sounds like you need to join if you haven’t already! I’ve really enjoyed seeing where other books I’ve read end up – as if their lives going on is more important then gathering dust on my bookshelf.

There are some books that I simply *MUST* own my own copies of – but for the rest, I think my pocketbook will apreciate it if I stick to the library!

I used to own well over 1200 books–when I relocated last year, I sold 800 of them. I took 250 with me. The rest stayed behind. It was one of the hardest parts of moving (the other was leaving my boyfriend behind).

After a while, I think, the drive to acquire books outstrips the drive to read them, and I’m going to be careful to not fall into that trap again. That doesn’t stop me from checking too many books out from the library, though.

I LOVE libraries… always have, always will. I’m rediscovering them this year as a grad student (think hours spent in a little cubicle) and still love them. Major perk of being a grad student – I get to check books out for FOUR months! (Of course, that’s assuming I have time to read anything and that I’ll remember I have library books out after four months.

I go to the library twice a week and I love it. Since this is a small town, the selection isn’t wonderful, but they seem to live to do ILLs. The last one I requested, they finally tracked down in Louisiana (I’m in Kentucky) which just amazed me.

And then there are the free 4-day DVD rentals. Once again, the selection is small and it seems like half of them are from the $5.88 bin at Wal-Mart, but they’ve been getting a lot of new releases lately. I just took back Daredevil, for example. Now if only they’d choose widescreen over fullscreen all the time, I’d be overjoyed!

I work in a library, and hearing this is so very nice. Most people really enjoy the services that libraries offer. And I love that people are using the library in place of a bookstore. You can donate books to the library, too 🙂

Christine, I will definetely check out. I am with you that there are some books that are a must keep. But I limit those to cookbooks, instruction manuels, self-help, etc. I have a few that have piled up that I need to give away. Anyone want a book that went through war [OIF & OEF] and made it back in one, but very dusty piece LOL jk

We go to the library just about every week. We have a new library in downtown San Jose that is a mind-staggering 8 floors tall… apparently the largest library this side of the Mississippi! It is a collaboration between the city and the state university, so it is well stocked. I love it… they even have net taps for your laptop. 🙂

I love libraries, too. I don’t like to buy books, unless I know that I want to read them over and over. We are blessed in our small community to have two extremely beautiful new libraries. I love going in there to browse or study. My alma mater had the most technologically advanced university library in the country (the William T. Young library at the University of Kentucky), but stepping foot in there again is like telling myself I have to do more homework/research. For books I’ve read lately, I’m on a Poe kick right now. Rereading my favorites is something I love to do for comfort.

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