Monday, September 08, 2008

A Word about Libraries

With most libraries, I can walk in, take a quick survey of the layout, and then spend hours perusing the shelves packed with novels, biographies, parperbacks, hardcovers. In a public library, the shelves are stuffed. The organization is clear, set out in the careful Dewey Decimal system we learned in the 4th grade. If you are lookng for something specific, it's so easy to find. If you want to browse, there are thousands of books of all subjects to look through, each in their own sections:  Fiction, Nonfiction, Research, Young Adult, Children's, Large Print Fiction, etc. There are comfy chairs in quiet, musty corners. That's a big point--it's quiet. People who frequent public libraries usually have enough respsect to turn the volume off on their cell phones, and no better than to talk loudly about their latest sexual encounter.

I'm a senior now, and still I have never felt comfortable in Ball State's library. In fact, today was the first time I even checked out a book here. I never know where to find anything--that's the biggest problem. I hate the way Brackin is set up. It makes absolutely no sense. Best Sellers are easy enough to find, but that is such a small collection of fiction. I looked up one book on CardCat, it's call number was PQ8098.1 L54 Z46 2008. What does that even mean? Where do I even start to look for it? Brackin is not a browsing library. I can go and print off my homework, or meet for group projects, but it has never really felt like a library to me. It's so noisy. Even on the 4th floor--the "quiet study area"--there is no escape. Phones ring, girls giggle, and boys, well they are just boys. Those of us who actually are there to study or read are too distracted.

Oh, the brightly covered arm chairs and up-to-date computer systems may be exactly what most students are looking for. Maybe I'm just old school. I've even noticed that my library at home has been seriously updated, even adding a hip-looking coffee shop. But I like the musty, dim-lighted corners. I miss finding something new in shelves that I've looked through hundreds of times. I think on my next day off I'm going to get a card to the Muncie Library.

Photo from here.

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