Thursday, July 3, 2008

Feeding the Reading Beast

My hometown library is small. No wonder really. The town is small – about 3800 inhabitants. It is the custom in New Hampshire to fund libraries with local dollars, voted on and raised by the local population, the library is small.

This is not to say it isn’t nice. It is very nice. The librarians do a fine job, the space is open and pleasing and an altogether enjoyable place to pass a few hours. Nevertheless, when it comes to actual reading…that is finding books that one wants to read and then reading them…it has some pretty stiff limitations.

The problem is that the stacks are small. There is neither the budget nor the space to carry a really generously useful collection. It's not like the Brown County Library in Green Bay Wisconsin, where I lived for 7 years. Being funded by the county, and serving some 200,000 or so citizens, it had a wonderful expansive collection. Such a luxury is easy to get used to . But I'm not in Kansas (or Wisconsin) anymore. So now I will commonly go to the catalogue to find that they simply do not have the title I seek. Too bad. So sad.

But wait! What about Inter Library Loan!

ILL is a beautifully conceived program. I go to my local library, ascertain that the book I seek is not in our local collection. I then speak to the librarian at the desk and request the title through ILL. She dutifully takes down my information, and in a few days I get a phone call. It’s Pam. She’s telling me that my book is in. I usually get to keep it for a month or so, and then send it back. In a Netflixian twist, I can only have two books out on ILL at a time, but I can live with that.

I just figured out that if I make a list of books I want to read, and give that list to Pam, she will constantly feed me the next item on the list. I suggested this and she thinks it’s a fine idea. In this way, I figure I can be reading one while the other is on order. I should be able to feed the Reading Beast quite nicely this way and keep my reading focused along some sort of systematic lines. Depending on the type of book and its density, I’ve been putting away 4-5 books a month.
So my next step is to print up my list. I figure going to my Amazon Wishlist is a good place to start. It sounds stranger perhaps, but there is something about this idea of giving the librarian a list to automate my reading plan is very exciting to me. I feel kind of like I am starting a very new and exciting journey.

Ooooh. Kind of give me shivers. I love books.

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