I just had a very disappointing trip to the library. Maybe I'm just too set in my ways. Maybe I just recall my days of the New York Public Library too fondly. But to have librarians actually laugh at me because I asked where their card catalog was (since when did they take those out? There was always something so zen about tracing my fingers over those cards) and then finding that the computer system was either awful... or there really just are only 2 books about medieval calligraphy and illumination in any of the local libraries that maybe they could shunt my way...
...it was just a depressing state of affairs. I always looked at the library in awe. I used to love walking in there, closing my eyes, and enjoying the smell of the books. Now I walk in and what do I see? Shelves upon shelves for cds, dvds, and video games... and a gaggle of adults hunkered down at the computers. It feels like no one peruses the shelves any more. They were so vacant and empty. When I was younger I would have to say 'excuse me' several times to get to the section I needed. I would wander up and down the aisles aimlessly and, yes, I would judge books based on their covers and just pull out interesting ones and begin flipping through them. I found many of my favorite authors that way.
But today, it was sad and quiet. I was laughed and then ushered to a computer and treated like a five year old as she started it up. I know how to use online systems. I learned back in.. some grade of school. But I still have a preference. My pride was hurt to be laughed at like I knew nothing.
But then I walked into the kids area where Johann was. And he sat, huddled in between the narrow aisles where other kids also sat, doing what I would do. He was cautiously pulling books off shelves with eyes wide and exclaiming 'YES!' or 'WHAT?!' as he saw some of the types of books they had. And when he got over the fact (eventually) that libraries are NOT for playing with the train table and other toys (which... I guess I don't fully comprehend why they are there and not in the smaller closed off room), but once he got over that, I saw so much of the magic of libraries in his eyes. All these books! All this imagination and learning! All free for the taking!
I remember those days. And now, as I look at it with the eyes of an adult, I feel my heart sag with sadness. Maybe I just need to relive my dream by visiting the NYPL again. Or somewhere else. Or maybe I just need to go to The Strand and buy my imagination and learning like so many others.
But I did get out three books. I got out everything by Evelyn Waugh that I could find. To take me back to days that make more sense in my brain. To relive the exploits of Charles and Sebastian. And it isn't because I couldn't find anything else (though I could not find what I was looking for), but it was because when I stumbled across her, I knew she needed to come home with me for awhile.