Wednesday, February 27, 2013

How My Library Usage Has Changed.

I used to find all the books I read by browsing at the library. (I am talking about pre-1995 life). I might know that a writer, say Ruth Rendell, had a new book out, but I also scanned all the shelves and often came up with new writers. I had no idea if the book was good usually. I went by the description of the plot on the jacket. About 75% of the books I read came from the library and many others came from their book sales. I rarely bought a new book although I got some for my birthday or Christmas.

Now I never browse books at the library although I still get most of what I read from there. Instead I see books mentioned on the Internet or reviewed in publications like the NYT or elsewhere and go to my library's site and put them on reserve. Some days I get an email that three or four have come in. Right now my library has gotten me the John O'Hara collection GIBBSVILLE from Central Michigan University. Season One of THE WEST WING is also waiting for me. I don't always get to half the books I put on reserve though.

I also get a lot of DVDs, music, and audiobooks from the library. Right now I am listening to BEAUTIFUL RUINS by Jess Walters. 

How has your use of the library changed over time? They say libraries will gradually disappear. I think that makes me even more sick than the bookstores. 

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

Absolutely, and similiarly to yours.

I used to go to the Central Library in Brooklyn at Grand Army Plaza regularly - a couple of times a month at least. I'd look at new books but then browse the huge fiction sections plus history, etc. I haven't been there in months.

I also went to the local library (we have two) at least once a week and just looked through the shelves. The closest one to us was closed for renovation for two years and when it reopened - we had already changed our allegiance to the second, larger one - was smaller, with fewer books!

In the meanwhile I'm like ytu. I see books recommended on various blogs and in magazines, put them on reserve and just go pick them up. While I'm there I might look at the shelves for a few minutes but it's not the same.

Jeff M.

Kent Morgan said...

I have always been a big user of the library, but also purchased many books. Every couple of weeks I would go to our large downtown main branch and go through the fiction and mystery sections as well as sports and some other non-fiction sections based on the time I had. I would seldom have books on hold. Right now I have about a dozen on hold, which I will pick up at a small branch about three minutes from home. I found out about every one through the Internet or reviews in the NY Times and other dailies. I still try to get to the main branch every few months, but seldom get beyond the new and noted section. My last visit was three weeks ago and I did find a novel I didn't know about that looked interesting so took it out. It went back to my local library yesterday unread.

Loren Eaton said...

I get almost all of my book recommendations online -- but I still procure 90% of my reads from the good old library.

Brian Busby said...

Good news from my corner of Ontario, Patti, in that library use has increased dramatically these past our years. Everyone seems to be in agreement that the poor economy is the cause. Reacting to the former - and not the latter - funding has not only remained steady but is set to increase.

You'll find me at our library at least once a week - more often than not to pick up an interlibrary loan. Such is life in a small town.

James Reasoner said...

The last time I went to the library, I wound up reading one out of the eight books I checked out. It's not that I didn't want to read the others. I just didn't have time and didn't want to keep rechecking them endlessly. I think I'm done with libraries for a while.

Twenty years ago the very idea of not going to at least one library regularly wouldn't have even crossed my mind. A lot of the time I had books checked out from two or three libraries at once. One more example of how life has gotten too busy.

John said...

I don't see how libraries will disappear. They are still vital for the academic world. Are universities and colleges going to disappear? Doubtful. The way public libraries are run may change drastically. I just learned that in some rural areas the libraries not only loan out books, but children's toys, cookware (apparently baking sheets and pie tins are very popular!) and sporting equipment. So I'm not worried about an impending disappearance of all libraries. They will survive and endure by learning to adapt to thier specific communities. Plus, it helps when the pubilc loves their library and uses it regularly.

I'm glad to see Brian's part of Canada is living proof of my belief in the contiuing importance of libraries to a community.

My library habits have changed only because the Chicago Public Library has hardly any pubilc funding these days. Staff has been cut, books sit for weeks waiting to be sheleved rather than a few days, new books are harder to find. Consequently, there is little money to buy anything other than what is important for the majority of its users. The new fiction section (my primary purpose to visit the library in the past) is completely gone from the seventh floor now. There is only one area downstairs on the first floor and it is consists of the usual populist and bestseller fare. I rarely visit the library more than once every two or three months as opposed to nearly every week as I did in the past.

Deb said...

I think your experience is typical of the way we're going. In junior high and high school, I can't tell you how many books and authors I discovered through my habit of wandering up and down the aisles. Then I went through about a 20-year phase where the library was secondary to (mostly used) book stores--but I was still a browser. Now I do my browsing in the Internet--coming across books and authors I want to try. I put them on hold and get them from the library, but I don't do much browsing there anymore.

Anonymous said...

When I was in college the librarians thanked me for keeping their circulation figures so high! You had to fill out request forms to get books - no wandering the stacks in Hunter College, unfortunately - and I was there every day with piles of requests. I read a ton of plays then as well as a variety of stuff for various history courses I was taking and fortunately they had a lot of old books back there. You'd get really old books with cards in them indicating they hadn't been checked out in decades in some cases.

Jeff M.

Randy Johnson said...

I don't go to the local library as much as I used to. A day remembered was one Saturday morning walking there and picking up a half dozen young adult(though they were called juvenile back then) Science fiction novels. I must have been fourteen then. I figured that might last me the weekend.

I was finished with them before I went to bed that night.

More recently over the three months of summer, ninety-two days, I read a hundred and two mysteries.

Not so much anymore.

RkR said...

I went to the library a lot as a kid and young man. Then I started buying books and rarely went at all. Just a dozen years ago I started going again, and use the library a lot.

The library I used in SoCal, like the one Jeff mentions, closed for expansion and remodeling, and when it reopened it had many fewer books, many more computers and meeting rooms and such.

When we got to Portland, the system here was/is much better. I don't go to the excellent main branch often as it's downtown and parking is an issue, but the local branch, coupled with on line catalog, allow me to get most of what I want. I do like you and others: put it on hold and pick it up. I get my book recommendations from blogs or Washington Post Book section online, or from Mystery Scene magazine. Our library usage is ten times what it was a decade ago.

pattinase (abbott) said...

As a kid we were only able to take out five books a week. I was there every Friday for my new batch. Usually I was done with them by Sunday. Good thing we had a lot of homework.
I buy more books than I ever did but am still at the library 2-3 times a week.

Margot Kinberg said...

Patti - You know, I still use the library a lot. The two local libraries I use most often have a really smooth system of putting books on 'hold' and so on when one wants them, so I like what I get there.

Joe Barone said...

Patti, Sounds to me like you read like the wind. My wife does that too. Plodding readers like me can only be envious.

When she was growing up as a country girl, my wife had read all the books in mobile book van more than once before the library changed them out of different ones.

pattinase (abbott) said...

No, I am a much slower reader now than I was as a kid. I was willing to devote hours to it then.

Anonymous said...

Before we moved to Brooklyn when I was 10 the only library I remember was the bookmobile that came around once a week. (We lived in Queens in an area behind the courthouse that was pretty new then.)

The library near where we lived in Brooklyn was two stories with the second floor a huge children's section but I preferred adult books like THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO and Osa Johnson's I MARRIED ADVENTURE.

My mother was always a voracious reader and a library user.


Jeff M.

George said...

I know this is hard to believe, but I'm trying to buy fewer books. So I'm using my public library more than I usually do. The online RESERVE system works great. I usually pick up a couple books a week, mostly non-fiction. My public library is also getting into ebooks so that will be my next move to cut back on buying books.

Al Tucher said...

I work at the Newark Public Library, where this year we have a zero acquisitions budget.

Zero.

This will affect my book buying, because I usually get acquainted with a new author's works through the library. $27 is a little too steep for taking many chances.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Al-That makes me sick. Just sick. No new books in a city that is poor like Detroit. I wonder what their acquisitions budget is. I'm afraid to look.
I wonder if we could start a book campaign to buy books for the Newark Library.

Al Tucher said...

Anything would help.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Al-Where should people send books or donations to?

Al Tucher said...

The best bet would be:

Development Department
Newark Public Library
5 Washington Street
Newark NJ 07102

I hate to discourage anyone who would like to donate books, but financial contributions would be preferable. Gift books are expensive to evaluate and process.

Thanks to any and all!

Bernadette said...

From the time I was a small kid to when I was in my mid-ldate 20's virtually everything I read came from the library - and like you it was via browsing the shelves, taking a punt based on the blurbs and so on. I would generally visit every 1-2 weeks, take home a bag of books and read 2 or 3, bringing the rest back after trying them out and finding them not to my liking. Once I started earning some decent money I was able to buy books more regularly - especially on my trips to visit my brother in the US - I would return with suitcases jammed with books - I never gave up entirely on the library but I did use it less - and there were probably a few years when I hardly ever went near it. Over the past 3-4 years (I'm mid 40's now) I've started using it more but, again like you, I reserve items recommended to me via my favourite people/sources on the net - At the moment I'd say my reading is about half library books and half my own books (either from my ridiculously large TBR pile or books I am sent for review). Our library system has recently made it much easier to reserve books from any library in the state which has made it more vialble for me, but there are still plenty of books that I want to read that are never released in Australia so for those I need to look elsewhere

pattinase (abbott) said...

Yes, we can also borrow books from anywhere in the state. I just got John O'Hara's Gibbsville from Central Michigan University. What a gift to have this service.

Erik Donald France said...

Patti, I don't believe libraries will disappear anytime before civilization itself disappears, or mutates.

The one I work at is nearly overrun, more than 1200 patrons per day. All computers are used, all computer studio rooms, all reading areas & all study areas, by an astonishingly diverse group of people -- and I love it!