Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Things I Miss From My Hometown Library

Some of you know because you read this blog, and some of you may not, but at the beginning of the year, I moved to New York to pursue my dream of working in publishing. Fast-forward through (a long) three months of endless applications, interviews, and rejections, and I'm sitting here in an entry-level editing job feeling like I'm on top of the world. But I definitely miss home.

One of the biggest things I miss that I didn't realize would be so obviously, horrifyingly different here is my library. I assumed I'd be able to figure out the libraries here with no problem because it's New York! They're famous for their libraries, right? Well, here are things I definitely miss about my small, hometown library.

1. It's actually not that small
A little backstory—my town is not a city. It's not a town, either. We actually belong to the unincorporated township of Lafayette in the smallest county in Indiana. It sits right on the border of Louisville (which is where I say I'm from to avoid confusion from anyone who doesn't live in the surrounding tri-state area). We're a bedroom community for Louisville, but there's also one small city in the county we pair up with (you know, for elections, post offices, etc. The city is down the hill, whereas my home sits about 700 feet above sea level). In the entire county, we have ONE library. Which seems a little sad because the whole two towns take up the whole county, so we cover a huge amount of space.
But the plus side to this is that the library is large. Especially for a small city. It's two floors and has entire distinct sections for children's, middle grade, YA, and half of one floor for adult fiction and all its encompassing genres. Which is good for me because the YA section has a TON of books that even though I've been going there since I graduated the kids' section, I still have not come close to reading them all.
The library here had two shelves for YA and no books younger than that. I was shocked. I know it may be a branch thing, but I feel like they should have had something, at least.

2. They're on top of releases
I don't know who at the library was in charge of monitoring release dates, but I can tell you for certain that they are excellent at their jobs. I found Rebel Belle, Great, and Breathe, Annie, Breathe there ON their release dates, ready to go. Plus a bunch of others, but these were the ones that really stood out because not for a moment did I think I'd be able to find these new releases at the library so quickly. Even if there's not something there, I know from experience that the "request a title" button on the website WORKS. Every single time I requested a title, I got an email about a week later saying it was on the shelves.

3. There's no one in line before my requesting
Here's a super small-town bonus — I almost NEVER have to wait for a book to check it out. Sure, HP and TFiOS and super popular books have a wait list, but anything else? I request it online and they pull the books, and they're ready to go by the time I drive down to get them.
When I went to the Queens library last month, they had a waiting list for EVERY book I asked about. And they were high-profile ones to people like me — bloggers — but not so much to tons of people everywhere. That was definitely a shocker that I would have to wait MONTHS to read a book.

4. They trust you can look stuff up yourself
This definitely may be specific to locales, but two of the Queens branches I went to had no computers available to people who wanted to look up titles and information. They had computers to sign up for general use, or the option of asking the librarian. And the librarians that I worked with seemed super annoyed with me that I knew what I was talking about and had a bunch of titles I was looking for. They were not at all happy with me, and I would rather have looked things up myself.
My home library had a ton interspersed with the different sections so you could find whatever you wanted.

5. There was only ONE branch
This is never a thing I thought would be an issue, but there was only one library at home. All the books went there. They got funding, it was used at the one library. Here, all of the YA books were split up between the 20(ish?) Queens branches, and anything I wanted would take a week to get from another branch, or I'd have to trek out to wherever it was. The library here gets funding, and it has to get split between all the branches, so every library can't have the exact same books. They all share, which was very weird to me.

6. They've got a HUGE audiobook/ebook collection
This is a thing I only recently discovered when I decided I wanted to listen to books or check them out for my kindle. It's so easy, and there are so many to choose from on the website. I couldn't wait for the sequel to a book I was reading and found out the library had it available for download! I got to immediately start the next book for FREE!

I love having tons of indie bookstores here (even though I miss Carmichael's dearly), and used bookstores are wonderful for my budget. But the library system is one I haven't quite figured out. I'm living in Manhattan now, and the actual NYPL I went to was a museum, and I can't figure out where an actual library is. (It was pretty cool to see the stuffed animals that inspired Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh, but still...

Are you a New Yorker? 
Do you know how to use the libraries here?
Help me!

What do you like/not like about your own libraries?
Let's chat in the comments!

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