Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Stench of Death II:another library visit

Well, the purge continue at my library. There has been a well-publicized
scandal involving thousands of books that have been discarded. Officials say that all that was thrown out were books that were badly damaged, hadn't circulated in years, or were outdated. Online comments on several of those articles from people who claim to work at the libraries say otherwise.

When you're there, you can feel it. 67,000 books recycled in the past year makes an impact. And the reorganization continues. When I walked in, I went straight to the fiction section and almost had a heart attack. They'd removed several rows of shelves to make way for a new kids' section. But there already is a kids' section. It has its own room off the main floor. I can't figure out what they intend to put in that room. And yet, the large cafe with the limited hours remains untouched.

All this made me even angrier as I looked around the library. A lot of the people there were poster children for why the place needed to exist. The most poignant to me was a couple who appeared to be in their fifties. They were clean, but looked sort of on the poorer side. They also sort of looked like they didn't normally patronize libraries. They sat together at a table with a backpack between them, full of water bottles and cheap snacks. She was reading a true crime book. He was staring straight ahead. I was there towards the end of the day, and they had the stupefied look about them that people get in waiting rooms everywhere. My theory, after passing them a few times, was that their heat was shut off at home and they came to the library to be warm for a few hours.

So, my trip was very depressing, and most of the materials I selected matched my mood:

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. I picked it because I imagined it'd be as bleak and apocalyptic and moving as the Hunger Games trilogy. So far, it's sort of diffuse. They're getting at something big here, and from the movie reviews, I have a vague memory of what.
American Pastoral by Phillip Roth. Living in Buffalo and recently watching "Cars" several times, urban decay intrigues me.
Ava's Man by Rick Bragg. Part of a trilogy on his family and growing up poor in the South.
Postcards by E. Annie Proulx. I haven't read this one yet. And I love her.
Novelties and souvenirs: collected short fiction by John Crowley. Haven't read any in a while, and I liked the title.
Paradise, New York by Eileen Pollack. Because there's rural decay, too.
The Last Talk with Lola Faye by Thomas Cook. I need to get on this one, it's a 7-day about a son's meeting with his father's mistress.
Too Rich: The Family Secrets of Doris Duke by Pony Duke. I went to her house and know that she led a sad life. More of a guilty pleasure I guess.
Buffalo Bill's America by Louis Warren. A work-influenced book. I recently did a story on a high school that was doing "Annie Get Your Gun" and wanted to know more of the real story.
Bean Blossom Dreams by Sallyann Murphey. About life on a farm or something. I guess a cheerful selection never hurt anyone.
Egypt: a short history by Robert Tignor. Influenced not by current events, but by World of Warcraft, and the fact that several of their new dungeons borrow heavily from Egyptian mythology.

So there you have it. I am trying to enjoy this library while I can. Each time I go feels like the end, though I know logically they'd close every other branch before they closed this one. But it's a shadow of its former self already, and the page I talked with has no idea when they're finishing.

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