Our library has had a makeover. As everything has moved and I have no sense of direction, it’s harder than ever for me to find the books I might want. Before the change I was forever wandering around hopelessly, muttering, ‘What’s wrong with Dewey, for goodness sake’ as I made my way round stands marked ‘Quick Choice’, ‘Something Different’ or ‘New Books’. That and wondering which genre a particular author might be deemed to fit and shuddering at those horrible carousels which hide two thirds of the books from you.
We are now a do-it-yourself library, where the reader is responsible for borrowing and returning books, without stamps. It’s not really self-serve, as no sooner do you approach the console clutching your books and reader’s card than a librarian appears from nowhere at your shoulder, enquires kindly if you are ‘all right’ and proceeds to do the job for you. Old habits, eh? I said to one that I hoped this system would not be putting any of them out of a job. ‘Oh, we’ve got plenty to do’, she replied rather smugly, and whisked back into the librarians’ lair. I must say they’re all very cheerful these days.
I haven’t counted to see how my Library Challenge is going. All too often I prowl around and come out empty handed. You want the latest books? They might come over from Swanage or Bridport. You want the book before last in a series? Sorry, the early ones have gone. The 10p trolley is always full of more books they’re getting rid of. I could reserve books but to get anything from outside the county costs £3.85. Some people will think this very mean of me but I don’t see why, because my library is small, I should pay extra for what is supposed to be a free service, when I already pay Council Tax. Besides, for £3.85 I could buy a book, or several.