Sunday, May 6, 2012

Infinite Riches in a Little Room

Every year, I have 12 inter-library loans allotted to me by the Butte County Library.  I do my best not to waste a single one.  The inter-library loan system is as follows: if you go to your library and ask for a book and they do not have it in the building, there are people whose job is to track down a copy at another library and then convince that library to loan it to you through their library.  You, the patron, have only to fill out a chit of paper with the book title and your name and contact information.  Then you go home and, usually, in my experience, after you've forgotten that any of this went on, you get a call saying your book is there.

The time limit is up to the discretion of the lending library.  I was told this time that my book came all the way from Humboldt and that they were one of the stricter libraries in regards to the amount of time they allowed their books to disperse into the hands of the public.  In this case, I think I have about a week with the book.

On the few occasions where necessity has lead me to thin my personal library either for moving purposes or lack of space (a process which is like deciding which of your fingers to cut off) I tend to look first to the books that would be easily accessible in any library.  Looking directly over the top of my laptop as I write this, I can see two copies of Jane Eyre on my shelf.  In the circumstance of a book thinning, at least one of those would probably go.  I also should state that I have no intention of thinning out my personal library again so long as I live if I can help it.  Be that as it may, there are other types of books which are not readily available at any library.

I love the Chico Library, but... Well, to put it nicely, if I had a disposable income, I would donate liberally to the Chico Library in hopes that they could improve the sphere of their offerings.  Nonetheless, if I suspend my demand for instant gratification and put in an inter-library loan request when (inevitably) I want to read a book that they don't have on-hand, they can get me that book!

In this case it was My Laocoön: Alternative Claims in the Interpretation of Artworks by Richard Brilliant.  Cost prohibitive left to my own means and not a title one finds in every library, but something I desperately wanted to read as soon as I heard of it.  More on it in a few days when I've finished it.

The clock is ticking.  The beautiful thing about your local lending library is that they are strengthened by use.  We've recently had a little struggle in Chico where the city severely cut the hours of the library, but were forced to reconsider when reports confirmed how important and valuable the library is to the community.  Also, it confirmed what a great job they do.  I encourage everyone to exercise all of the uses of their local library.  It is a place where heaps of information are there for the taking, totally at your disposal.  It frightens and disturbs me that they are not more widely used.  As the line from Auntie Mame so famously puts it, "Life's a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death!"  Libraries are, in my opinion, one of the greatest concepts humankind as come up with.

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