This morning I’ve been thinking about books. Library books in particular. I like books, love them. I own many, some of which I’ve even read. But still I can’t resist a good bookstore or a nice library.
Despite the many books at home that I haven’t yet but am eternally keen to read, I find that I’m constantly borrowing books from the library. New York City, where I work, has a great library system: many titles, excellent on-line interface, and a superb inter-branch lending program. I exploit the latter extensively, reserving books, CDs, DVDs, etc. and having them sent to my local branch. Sometimes there’s a waiting list for popular titles and the wait may be months, but if there’s a copy not spoken for it usually arrives within a few days, a week at most.
There is, however, a price to paid: one is often reminded that this is a communal operation. These are not the lovingly-cared for, gently read volumes of my home library, where the paperbacks’ spines have no cracks and the hardcovers’ corners are not dented. Oh no. These are the books that are thrown into the seething masses of humanity, at best like stage divers at a rave, at worst like chum for great whites. Now, it’s true that not all of the library’s patrons are selfish and inconsiderate of the group enterprise aspect, but there are enough of that sort to make a significant impact, and the books bear the battle scars as proof. Here’s my list of the major types: (more…)