Lately I have been rediscovering how much I love the library. As the weather turns colder and wetter here in the Great Northwest it gets difficult to find free activities for me and the kiddo to indulge in. The library is perfect. At my local Seattle Public Library branch the children’s section is located further from the library itself, so it’s not a huge deal if Jack talks in a normal voice or acts like a toddler. There’s a great selection of children’s books and DVDs to check out. They also provide puzzles, puppets and great reading areas. Jack and I could easily spend two hours reading, puzzling and playing. The bonus is Jack gets to pick and choose what books he brings home. (I limit it to five or six simply because he wants to read all the books he checks out every night before bed.) Not only does it entertain the kiddo for a couple hours and make the time during a rainy day fly by, but I also feel very at home at the library.
As a bibliophile the library has always been a special place for me; a place where I can browse for books, take them home without paying for them and bring them back again. It’s a place where I can preview a book to see if I do, in fact, want to add it to my ever growing collection of books. Countless times I have checked out a book convinced I was going to love it, only to find that I didn’t really feel the need to own it.
The library also holds some personal memories for me. My first “real” boyfriend and I went to the library down the street from our high school a few times a week to hang out after school. We got scolded by the librarians for cuddling up together in one chair and we shared one of the most memorable kisses (at least for me) right outside in the courtyard. I watched him work on his French homework and filled out my application for Assistant Director of the school play there. It doesn’t matter what library I go to I usually always remember those things, when I walk through the doors.
Besides triggering happy memories from high school, one of my favorite things about the library is checking out an almost new book. One that you can tell has been read by only a few people. I got one of those books the other day. It had the “Received On” stamp in the front and it was received at the library this year, so I knew it would be a good one. I flipped through it quickly, that’s when I noticed something I hate. Someone had crossed out the word “fucking” with a pencil. I’ve seen this before. In elementary school I was reading a chapter book in the school library and noticed someone had crossed out the word “ass.” I took it to the librarian to show her. I don’t remember her reaction at all, but I know what mine was, how disrespectful!
I felt this feeling again as I stared at the line carefully drawn through the swear of all swears. When I took the book home I sat down to read it with an eraser. I noticed right away that only two swears at the beginning of the book were crossed out. It seems whoever was reading the book could only abide two swears before giving up. I used my eraser to get rid of the marks, but I still was annoyed, they’d pressed so hard with their pencil that a gouge was left in the paper. I couldn’t get rid of that, but at least it was less noticeable with the pencil mark gone.
I really wonder why people feel it’s ok to do that. Making notes in the margins or crossing out words that offend your tender eyes is really rude and what’s more is it’s distracting. You know someone else might want to check out the book so why not keep it as nice as you can, out of respect for the next person? Would you ever mark up a library book? Am I being unreasonable here?