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How often do you visit a library? Do you go to borrow books? Do research? Check out the multi-media center? Hang out with the friendly and knowledgeable staff? Are you there out of love or out of need?

Booklovers would agree with me that libraries are the rescue to our wallets. They are also good sources of books if we have limited shelf space. All that said, I don’t visit my local library as often as I used to because libraries tend to become a refuge for the rancid street people. They bring in what bags and other belongings they have amassed and sit at the media stations. I also don’t appreciate the loud children story time/singing that spread to the main reading room. The bottom line is: I don’t like library being used in any purpose other than reading and conducting research. My library visit is quick stop that allows to peer at the new books. I like to see a book that I’m interested in reading and decide if I’ll buy it. Library is also a great resource for out-of-print books.


17 Responses

  1. I will like to receive borrowed books, than you.

  2. I go to the library 1-2 times a week, but usually it is a quick 10 minute visit to pick up audio books I’ve requested (never buy those) and to browse the book sale shelf when paperbacks are 10 cents and hardcovers are 25 cents – who can pass up a great find at those prices?

    Our town library does not have a problem with homeless visitors, but at our college library (in a major city) you can occasionally find people in restroom washing up at the sink! UGH.

  3. I haven’t been in a while, but ours also has a lot of homeless people. I don’t mind it, though. They don’t bother me and are usually reading something. Honestly, I love that the library is a sanctuary for them. Then there are a lot of people there using the computers because I doubt they have either a computer or Internet at their homes. A library is also a source of information, and I’m glad it can be.

    The library was a godsend for me when I was young. I would go through books so quickly there was no way my mom and dad could afford to keep up with my habit. When I started teaching again I started using the library more because I made less money. That old feeling of magic came back to me. You mean I can take all these books and pay nothing? Wow. 🙂

    • The huge volume of people coming and going through libraries doesn’t bother me, as I have grown up in a city that is a hundred times more congested than Manhattan. The deterioration of hygiene however is a different story. I don’t want to elaborate but I’ve had bad experience. Again, I don’t like libraries being used for any purpose other than reading and conducting research. The “silence is golden” rule has long been disregarded. But the idea of free books can still be gratifying.

  4. I don’t visit libraries… even in school I hardly did. In fact, the few libraries here don’t have the books I will love to read so in the end I’ve got to buy or own, in one way or another.

    • I mostly buy now because I like to hoard! Also I would like to keep books for longer than library allows me and sometimes, depending on the book, I have to put aside a book and pick it up later to read.

  5. Your compassion for the “rancid street people” is overwhelming… I’m sure many of them would much rather not be rancid and have a job and a place to live…

    I don’t typically blast someone’s post, but, seriously, this is one of the most arrogant, holier-than-thou, I’m-better-than-everyone things I’ve read in a long time.

    Wow. Just wow.

    • I’m sorry you feel that way about me. I in fact have completely erased my presence from a lot of public facilities. It’s not about the people it’s more about the filthiness of the places.

      • Mostly I am just surprised. You’re an intelligent, articulate person, and you seem to understand the power of words.

        “…libraries tend to become a refuge for the rancid street people. They bring in what bags and other belongings they have amassed and sit at the media stations.”

        And, then you reply that it’s not about the people, it’s about the filth of the place?

        The post clearly says it’s the rancid (which, means smelly, but, also offensive and nasty) street people who bug you, and the kids who bug you. That doesn’t sound like “it’s not the people, it’s the filth”. If you want to be a teacher and a writer, I’d think that you’d be more precise in your words. (And, it’s not like schools are going to be any quieter and cleaner, though there probably won’t be street people in the hall.)

        Honestly, I’m not trying to pick a fight. I understand when you say that the dirtiness of a place can not make you want to go. I stopped going to the library because it seemed that the books were dirtier than they used to be .. people spill things on them, bleed on them, smoke around them, so they smell smoky… and, I get that dirty floors and shelves can make a place an undesirable place to visit.

        It just seems that when you say you don’t visit because the rancid street people have taken over is not a statement about the cleanliness of the library, but of the people in it. Stated in the terms that you, as a writer, express it, it’s certainly a judgement of the homeless people who are seeking some shelter, and a chair; many of them actually even read the books, at least in the library around here they do. Your words make you come across as someone who simply rejects the worthiness of someone simply because they are a street person.

        The first two, and last four sentences of your Library review are great. The rest of it though, reads as if you hold yourself above the dregs of people in the library.

        As I said, you are obviously well read, but, I guess I’m surprised that you write a post that makes you come across as better than all the other people in the library. I think as a reader you’d rejoice in the fact that people are using the library, and that children are being taught about reading. Isn’t it better that they’re learning about libraries and books than sitting at home in front of a tv?

        And, to clarify one thing you said in your response: I don’t feel any certain way about you, since I don’t know you. My irritation is at the way your words make you come across.

        And, ultimately, it doesn’t really matter, I suppose. I’m just someone who was referred to your blog by someone who I’ve long followed. I’m new here. I’m just a random blogger. This is your blog. Your place to say whatever the hell you want. And, I defend your right to say it.

        I guess it just all seems so weird, coming after your review of Nien Cheng’s book. The juxtaposition of your review of the book (and the content of the book), and the seeming class superiority of your words in this post are striking.

      • I have to agree with Matthew on several counts. Our downtown library now has a security guard that makes certain the homeless are not watching porn, not drinking booze or fighting. The library further spends a great amount of money cleaning or replacing furniture because they often pass out and urinate on the furniture. Lately they have had to hire off duty police to prevent fights inside.This is done by the homeless despite an overwhelming push by the city to put all charities under the control of one committee. Our city can get a homeless person of the streets and into their own place in 20 days. LIke other I donate to groups that help the homeless but this are hardcore society dropouts.

  6. I’m lucky that the main room in my library is still quiet. There are study rooms and “reading” corners that get noisy but I can browse the book shelves and hear a pin drop. That being said I visit my library at least every 3 weeks to get another supply of books!

    • San Francisco has done an amazing job in renovating libraries. We have seen re-opening of branches almost every quarter last year. Thanks to the Friends of the SF Public Library, which has raised with book sales and soliciting donations. Despite the tough hygiene condition of some locations, I still commend their effort in promoting reading culture.

  7. Uh, John, I do think you are trying to pick an argument. Clearly that is so, otherwise you’d have stated your point and not gone to great lengths to overstate the fact that you think Matt has a holier-than-thou attitude.

    I agree with what Matt said and deplore the denizens of the library whose body odour precedes them and permeates the airspace. Further, the slaterns who deface the books they borrow (keyword here: *borrow* — they do not belong to you, so show some respect) should be banned for life!

    Holier-than-thou? Absolutely not. High hygiene standards would be more accurate.

    Matt I don’t believe I’ve commented before. I enjoy your blog very much. Please don’t let this argumentative begings-with-an-a-and-ends with-an-s run you off!


    • Thanks Debra. During my recent visits, I hard a difficult time concentrating on reading because of the conditions I have previously discussed. I understand the library is a public domain and its resources are available to every citizen, but sanitation issue has been a huge concern for me.

  8. Not only do I love the library, but I am so incredibly in love with the digital library that is accessible now! I am a big fan of libraries with a “new books” section. . . amazing! And I enjoy requesting books and then just showing up and having them ready for me. I feel special that way, like someone else is doing the “shopping” and I just get the “stuff” for free 🙂

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