Old-fashioned pages

Last week I did a thing I haven’t done for years. I took books out of a public library. I’m working on a project that has frustratingly few resources online, so after a couple of weeks of fighting my way through unyielding websites, I looked up the nearest library.

I got my card renewed (I found it immensely cheering that my details were still on the city library system), and went and hunted for books. (Who would’ve thought that, in these Google-dominated days, the Dewey Decimal system is still going?! It is.) And they still use the same old system – piece of paper glued onto the back page, and a date stamp two weeks from the date of issue to tell you when to bring it back.

The whole thing took time, of course. Time to get there, time to park, time to hunt through the shelves, then hunt again in a different section, then think again where else my information might’ve been filed.

The librarian wore a long skirt. She hmmmed her way through the shelves, muttering, and looked convinced that she had nothing to offer me. But gradually we found four different books, each with more to offer than I’d managed to find on the internet.

It was thoroughly pleasant to walk through a roomful of books, dotted with quiet reading folk nestled in corners and desks. Not even the frenzied photocopying of university libraries, where everyone seems to want to copy material rather than to read it. Nope, just people looking at books, for the sake of reading rather than having.

It was thoroughly pleasant to look through entire books on a subject, rather than flicking from one hyperlink to another, and to use a contents page and an index. And to browse through shelves of books on a subject, instead of wading through pages of advertising-indexed pages. I love using the internet. But it was lovely to rediscover the pleasure of an old-fashioned public library.

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About Lisa

I live in South Africa with my husband and two small children, doing things, thinking about things and sometimes writing about them.
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3 Responses to Old-fashioned pages

  1. courtneykane says:

    I love libraries and spend a good portion of my free time in them, but I no longer borrow. I prefer to own my books. I like to keep them after I’ve read them and refer to them like old friends or refer them on to old friends… but I still love libraries (and bookstores) for the treasures they hold.

  2. neen says:

    Ahh, I love public libraries. I take the kids at least once a month. Which library did you go to? Claremont is a good one…

  3. Lisa says:

    I think it was Claremont… the one on Library Square, off Wilderness Rd. Only trouble with the place is that there isn’t a returns box, so you can’t drop by and leave books for returning if the library is closed. Which it is before 10am. As I discovered…

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