austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

It's a long lost cause I can never win

I had not been avoiding the library system here. I was eager to sign up for a card, as since departing Singapore I haven't had a valid library card, and it left me feeling unpleasantly naked. It just hadn't been an urgent problem before because I had some books I had yet to get around to reading, and one thing central New Jersey has all over Singapore is the variety of used books available. The used book chain I went to in Singapore ran itself as a bookstore or rental library, as you liked, which had some advantages -- you knew just what the book would be worth on returning, and if you decided to keep it you just did that, and the books would be in very good shape, and they would even put a plastic sleeve on the books if you asked -- but also the disadvantage that older or more obscure books were likely to be kept off the shelf.

But all that kept me from joining the library here was the trouble of getting free access to a car for a few hours, and my temporary driver's license problem, not to mention that the roads in this part of the state have never been afflicted with Euclidean geometry, so that going in the direction of a place will only draw you farther away from it, which makes navigation a problem. I finally got all the elements needed together, though, and the lady at the desk was happy to help set me up -- and incidentally list all the features of the library, such as books, new books, books on the second floor, CDs, DVDs, the stairs, the coffee bar, fees, three-week loan books, two-week loan books, online catalog, online reservation and renewals, desk-based checkout, self-checkout stations, telephone-based reservations and renewals by automated system; telephone-based reservations and renewals based on talking to a person; if I go to the neighboring county library headquarters I could get my card approved to borrow books from that library too. (I don't know why they don't just have that set up by default, and was feeling a bit intimidated to ask.) She also gave me at least ten flyers explaining various aspects of the library. I didn't know libraries could be so complicated.

For all that setup, I was actually a little underwhelmed by the selection; it turns out that branch wasn't as big as I thought. But I did find a good bit of bedtime reading -- Robert Benchley's Of All Things!, which I don't own and haven't read in most of a decade at least (it includes one of his finer divisions of people into two classes). And they have now both full-size cards and little keychain cards, which would be convenient if I didn't just keep both in my wallet anyway.

Trivia: Campbell's Soup Company has tried selling Liver Baby Soup, Black Cherry Soup, and Prune Soup with Oranges and Apricots. Source: New Jersey Firsts, Harry Armstrong, Tom Wilk.

Currently Reading: Noise, Hal Clement.


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