I’ve had a library card for longer than my partner’s been alive, which all in all sounds incredibly creepy. Yes, there’s a slight age difference between us, but more pointedly, I’ve had my library card since 1991, when I was five years old.
My pre-school was a few minutes walk away from a library – though probably 20 minutes when trying to shepherd 20 or so tiny kids there. Parents had to supply us with a book bag (and I still remember how ugly mine was… though I think Mum made it by hand, so I should be kind about it… it was bright red/blue/yellow) and I think we went there once a week.
Though I live in a fairly small ‘city’, we have a surprising amount of libraries. Darwin, Nightcliff, Casuarina, Karama… and then Palmerston (sister-city) has one, though I think I’ve only stepped foot in it once for a NaNoWriMo meeting. Our schools all have fairly decent libraries also, and the Dept of Education has one that I think I can borrow from, but haven’t been bothered to just yet.
We went to the library a lot when I was young, right up until maybe a year and a half ago (or is it two and a half years?) when Dad received my first iPad (and I upgraded) for his reading. He loves the damn thing, and now doesn’t read printed books, which is a good thing for mum who was literally running out of books to borrow, despite our number of libraries.
I loved the library when I was little. Not so much now, which I’ll get to in a moment. Mum used to take me there when I was ill, because it was a promised quiet space. The chairs were massive, she’d help me find my favourite books, and I’d finally feel rested and okay afterwards. I loved ‘The Fiend’ books. There was this book called ‘The Bear Nobody Wanted’ that was only read by myself – our library sill had the card system for a long while, so you could see that I was the only person borrowing it.
Now our library has eBooks and online ‘holding’ of books, if your card is enabled and you’ve set up a password. I love the idea of finding a library has a book you need/want to read at 10pm, and being able to put it on hold until you can make it in after work the next day, so I went in to have my card enabled.
Only they couldn’t, and had to call others over. My card was too old and the …idk, code on the card was far too old for this to happen. I asked what about everyone else in Darwin? I’m young, surely my card-…
Nope. Seems majority of people have either died, don’t use the library anymore, or lost theirs and have had to ask for a new one. They called someone over who needed my card for half an hour but surprisingly, they didn’t throw it out and simply give me a new one. It’s not even the oldest card I’ve had – I remember when it was just a yellow bit of card with your name written on it and then laminated. The handwriting on it was lovely.
I also used a library down in the very small farming town of Frankland, when I visited mum’s side of the family during holidays. It was a small half room attached to the town hall, and to this day they’re still on the index card system. I never got mine, I was always on Grandmas, and they were only open two days a week which drove me bloody crazy. At any one time they probably hold … mum and I can’t agree. At least nothing over 300 books, but at least they did a high turnover with nearby farming towns, so one visit I might have seen Frankland’s books, then next time it would be Cranbrook’s books, or Albany’s.
These days (and they’ve had it for a long time) there’s video games, televisions, and people who speak normally/loudly/yell across the room. I’ve tried going there while sick, and it’s been quieter in a bookstore in a shopping centre instead. I utterly hate this. I miss our quiet libraries. I miss the slightly-scary and/or rude librarians who’d tell you off. I love video games. This doesn’t mean I want them in a library with the sound way up and a horde of kids being loud around them.
But hey, what does my opinion matter. My hands are still ruined by ross river and so I read on my kindle (recently upgraded to the paperwhite!) because I can’t hold a book that’s over 300 pages otherwise. My library’s collection of ebooks seems to just be popular titles, ie. vampire smut, so I don’t even use them for that. Eh. At least I have the memories.