I have had a library card since I was in elementary school. I remember when the card was made of manila tag and to check the book out the librarian had to go to the back of the book and stamp the card. I was thrilled with the new laminated cards when they came out. It seemed much sturdier than the previous one. I was proud to have mine transferred over to a new card, complete with bar code! Yes, younger readers, I was around before bar codes :)
I have enjoyed the library for as long as I can remember. I had a brief hiatus of a few years during which I felt wealthy enough to buy my paperbacks. Then I realized how expensive they were after only reading the book once. I don't generally read books more than once as I usually remember the plot line too well. Not the case of all books, there are some I can re-read and enjoy the second time. Or third time if I really love it :)
The city I live in has an excellent library system. You can take books out of any branch and return them to any branch. The holds system works very well for me, especially since I can access the catalogue and my account on the Internet. And the branches seem well spaced in the city, but I really have only used a few of the branches.
My favorite branch has been under renovations and is finally done! They opened their doors on Wednesday even though they are not completely finished setting up. I had holds available for pick-up so I drove over as soon as I could. The outside of the building looks pretty much the same, a little more up-to-date maybe. The biggest difference to me was the garden area. There was a raised, cemented garden with a huge tree in the middle. Many years there have been peonies and little bedding plants around the tree. In recent years there hasn't been too many flowers. Now the garden is gone :( The tree is still there but the garden area was leveled and mulch surrounds the tree. I know the garden must have been a hassle and obviously fell from their priorities, but it was pretty in full bloom.
The new library also has two self-checkouts. These are becoming more and more commonplace. My neighborhood Safeway just installed four of them and the newer Wal Marts have several. I like the checkouts sometimes. I definitely like them at the library. I found out you can put your entire stack of items on the scanning pad and it will scan them all. Lovin' that :) However, other people in front of me in line don't like it when I suggest they try this method with their umpteen items. Maybe I need to work on my approach on that, try to sound less impatient or something. Anyway, it's cool.
The interior of the library is done in neutral tans and beiges. Best to display the colorful books :) The counters and walls are more arc-shaped now instead of all squared off. The shelving is also placed in a swoopy line. It's very easy on the eyes.
One potential, major problem is the hard surfaces. There is no carpeting and the shelves and counters are made of hard materials. This creates a problem with sound. While I was in the library looking at the new shelves and layout, there was also a mother and toddler. Do you know where I'm going with this? Oh yeah, the toddler was irritable. She sounded tired, hungry and hot and seemed to want to leave. Until it was time to leave, then she wanted to run around and play with non-toy type things. One crying child takes up A LOT of space. Because of the way the furniture was placed, the girl's cries bounced around so that no matter where I was or where she was, it seemed like she was sitting on my hip crying into my ear. Now, I have two boys which I took to the library often. I was always aware of how loud they were being and simply didn't allow for a high level of noise from them. If they were cranky I would leave as soon as possible, absolutely not browse around and subject the other patrons to my screamy child. I know it's difficult to control the volume on a child, but I wish many other parents/caregivers were more considerate of other people and their need for quiet in a library setting. After all, not everyone likes children. I'm hoping that when all the books are placed out on the shelves they will absorb more sound.
Is the trend of libraries to be less quiet? I know books can be downloaded onto PDAs and Kindles or purchased cheaply on the Internet making libraries less valuable. Research is also not limited to the encylcopedia set at the library, now it can be done in your jammies in the middle of the night. So are libraries trying to get more clientele by relaxing the rules on being quiet? Is this something else I need to adjust to, like listening to other people's cell phone conversations in public bathrooms? I like the hush-hush of a library. It's relaxing to me and easier to browse or read in. I am becoming less tolerant of squalling toddlers running amid the shelves, and since tripping them is wrong I just have to try to ignore it. Yes, I could say something to the parent, but I usually sound like a shrew when I do that.