I Love My Library…

One of the things I’ve discovered in the past 5 or so years is that libraries are adapting and offering more downloadable formats for books, magazines and movies. There are  library apps you can use on a mobile phone or tablet so that you can browse or search and then check out materials without ever setting foot in the library itself – not that the library is a bad place to be. I’m just saying it’s a convenient and wonderful thing to be able to check out an ebook or audiobook without having to actually go to the library to do that.

What frustrates me a little is that there are limited options for libraries we can use. I feel like the existing model that’s tied to the neighborhoods where we live is really outdated, and there should be more sharing of library resources between libraries, if not nationally, at least at the state level. I’m pretty lucky here in Seattle to have access to 3 major public library systems. That isn’t true in or near all big cities. In small towns, you’re really limited to only one – the county system. I think that for people who have one or no options, that really sucks. Everyone should have access to library materials no matter where they live.

Here in Seattle, we have the Seattle Public Library the Tacoma Public Library and the King County Library System. This isn’t much different than back home in Minnesota, although I am a little surprised that I can get a card at the Seattle or the Tacoma libraries. Tacoma more so because it’s in a different county; however, I can get a card because I have a card for the King County Library System. Back home, I wouldn’t have been able to get a card at the St. Paul Public Library because Stillwater was too far out of the city limits and also in another county. I guess I wasn’t paying much attention back in Houston so I don’t know how far I could go before I ran out of library options.

On a side note, the Tacoma Public Library allows me, as a non-resident of Tacoma, to get an e-card only that I can use to check out ebooks, and they don’t require me to show up at one of their branches with an ID to get a card beforehand. Seattle’s a different story. Guess it’s “lucky” that I get my chemo downtown and can stop in after a chemo appointment to pick up my card so I can start checking out ebooks from them.

Back to my original thought – what if you’re on vacation in a different part of the state and you just want to sit down with a good book at the beach and you didn’t think to get one before you left, or the one you brought sucks? Happily, with downloadable formats, you don’t have to be at home to access materials from your local library. But what if your local library doesn’t have what you’re looking for and the one at the beach does? I know, not likely, but then what? Then you’re either buying it yourself maybe from a local bookstore or having it overnight shipped from Amazon, or you’re requesting that your local library make that purchase and hoping that they do and then waiting for that to happen (not likely before you’re leaving for a week at the beach), or you’re basically screwed. How’s that fair or right?

If you’re interested in changing the rules on this, please write to your State Senator and State Representative for your district. Here in WA, I’m in District 11. If you don’t know who your state reps are, Google something like “state of xyz legislative districts.” The search results should give you links to your state legislative district maps, and from there, inputting your address will point you to the correct district and your elected reps.

If you love your library as is, drop them a line and let them know. There’s usually a place on the website to contact the library and let them know how they’re doing. They appreciate hearing that you’re happy with their service. Or, if you’re feeling nostalgic, take a thank you card to your local branch with a bag of chocolate candy.

About Pink Ribbon Road

This blog is about receiving and living with a breast cancer diagnosis.
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One Response to I Love My Library…

  1. Renee Gjerde says:

    Oh, the library services have really changed a lot over the years, and it is expensive to keep up with all the technology and formats out there. Before I left Minnesota, you could register your local library card at all the public libraries in the Twin Cities area. Even a local Stillwater card could be used at Minneapolis Public, or Hennepin County system. Even back then, if the library didn’t have the book you wanted you could order it through inter-library loan (ILL). The local library would try to get it from Minnesota, but if the book was elsewhere, then they would try to get it sent. Some libraries didn’t allow out of state lending, so it kind of depends on what agreements are made between library systems about lending out-of-state. Because small town library budgets are usually pretty lean, getting a book through ILL can have a fee of $5 or so to cover the mailing and admin costs. But it is usually possible to get that book in California if you live Minnesota and vice versa.

    In Norway, we have a national card, so I can borrow a book in Stavanger when I am on vacation, and even return it in Oslo. The population of Norway is about the same as Minnesota, so a national card is much easier to deal with. Each town library I borrow a book from downloads my personal information into their system. They do this because if I don’t return the book, their system can track me down and send out a reminder or a bill. 🙂 That happened once, but I had actually returned the book in Stavanger. They found it on their shelf, not checked in. It is always a good idea to have them check the shelf if you are pretty sure you delivered it.

    E-books and books on tape are coming along, but the kinks haven’t been worked out in all places. I had to register my card as a e-book user in addition to checking out usual materials from the library. That was done through MELSA, which also covered a lot of the electronic magazine databases that were possible to search online. I cannot use it because I am searching from Norway, not the USA so it doesn’t like me, unfortunately.

    I am sure as time goes on, things will become more national, but that needs a lot of funding. Something that our current government is not going to support. A national database would be very cumbersome, and full of security risks with all that private information. So that is my response to your questions regarding nation-wide access to books and electronic information. Thank goodness libraries are seen as important to the community even in this electronic age. Not perfect, but a haven and source of info for many.

    PS Now in Oslo one can use a 24/7 library. You have to be over 18, and register your card and get a code to get into the library. It is also not perfect, but seems to be functioning for the most part. 🙂 For those of us who cannot get to the library during usual open hours.

    Like

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