Friday, March 9, 2012

A bit of a fresh start and thoughts on a library

To kick off the relaunch of this blog I decided to do something that I am quite embarrassed I had yet to do. I officially move to New Jersey back in July, settling into my own apartment in October. (Bless my patient boyfriend for dealing with my crap scattered all over his place until my job situation was finalized.) I have all of the necessities here and finally live in an apartment that I was allowed to decorate as I wished, even painting the walls a lovely bright teal color. I have my haven to come home to at the end of the day. Certain "extras" have yet to be established five months later. No cable. No Internet. I enjoy using them at my boyfriend's place, but can survive without at home for now. Trust me, the Internet connection is coming soon. VERY soon.

 Today I decided it was time to fill in one of the blanks here in Jersey. I headed out and got myself a library card. After for living in Chicago for so many years I have grown used to a very specific library experience. I hadn't quite realized how ideal it was. The location near my old apartment was new. Shiny, clean and new. The books were in great condition. The staff was wildly diverse. There was one gal around my age who was hip and funky and always commented on my wonderfully juvenile bacon and eggs book bag. Some of the librarians were stern or cranky, while others were friendly and happy. It was a place where I would have loved to work. Oh, how I miss the Wicker Park/Bucktown library.

The Bayonne Public Library is housed in an old building with fantastic architecture. I so wish the interior lived up to the exterior. Ok, the foyer has fabulous marble floors and there are some cool murals on the wall of the hallway leading to the children's library. There is just such a sad... old feeling to the place. The staff fulfilled the stereotype of old, frumpy and cranky. Boy howdy. It was the first library that I wanted to leave. You usually can't get me out. The organization of the rooms was confusing and the books were shelved on their sides, spine up so that they could fit into spaces that were not tall enough. You couldn't read the titles to see what was there. The main fiction section was full of dusty, torn hardcovers that made my heart ache. Thankfully I discovered the new book section. You could hear my sigh of relief echo though the room. There was a decent selection, enough that I was able to snag a few for the next week or so. I came home with a lovely, if small stack of precious including

Veil of Night by Linda Howard

Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella

Breaking the Rules by Suzanne Brockmann

And for my daily commute to and from school I snagged the audio version of Good Omens by Terry Pratchet and Neil Gaiman.

 Libraries like this make me sad. There is so much potential in that building. With some elbow grease and organizational skills it could be a great library. New (but not the most recent releases) and old books should be shelved together. Separate sections for certain subgenres would help patrons. I clearly remember there being separate romance, mystery, and sci fi sections in libraries I have patronized in the past. Signage is needed and the poor, beautiful children's section needs to host some events. The young adult section should not be hidden in the back of the audio/visual room. Geez! Don't they know that YA has been a hot genre for years? I'm sure they are suffering from a lack of funding. I fear that the bigger deficit is in initiative. Everyone there seemed so tired. I wish I could go in and shake things up. Give them all a dose of excitement and energy. They have books! So many books! They could be awakening minds, turning children's imaginations away from video games and into worlds of imagination. It is libraries like this that make me want to get my MLS so I could get hired and whip the place into shape, inject some life into the organization. Shouldn't a library be full of people? Shouldn't it be a centerpiece for the community?

The potential is there, Bayonne, but what are you going to do to reach it? Does anyone have ideas on how the community could take action?


Nicola O. said...

So pleased to see you back! I can um, relate, to the extended blog quietude. I'm trying to rejuvenate mine as well, and I'm so happy to put you back on the blogroll!

Shannon said...

Thanks, Nicola! I knew I would be away from the blog for a while, what with moving cross country and all. I just never planned to be away for two years. Where did all that time go??!?

I've been playing with the blog and trying to give it a new look. The darn header is driving me crazy! Ah well, it's getting there.

It is good to have books on the brain again!

Christine said...

I agree with Nicole! So awesome to have you blogging again!

You do realize we are nearly neighbors, right? Well.. not exactly but still we live only 17 miles apart? Probably half that as the crow files?! We should meet up!

As for your library.. I cannot believe they shelve the books with the spines UP and not OUT facing the aisle. How are you supposed to browse?? 4 out of 5 librarians in my library are cranky, too! It's awful.

I admire your desire to do SOMETHING to improve the library and get more people passing through the doors. What about contacting the local girl scout council and suggesting the library as a focal point of a service project or Silver or Gold Award Project for the scouts?

Shannon said...

Christine, I was wondering how close you were to me now. We should definitely try to meet up. It would be great to have some book talk :)