Ever notice that your library has a “theme?” Maybe it’s because I’m a bit of a library connoisseur, but I have noticed that libraries have themes. In my life, I have visited numerous libraries, but more on that later. In my geographic area, I have physically used five libraries with some sort of relative frequency and noticed distinct differences among them.
Library I is about 90% non-fiction. You want to learn something, as in actually learn something, you can find it in this library. Dewey Decimal in his Heaven must be so proud. This is the largest library in a multi-county area. It has one little room of fiction novels, and the rest of the entire library is non-fiction. If you want to write anything from a paragraph to a thesis to a book, you can practically do all of your background research here. This library has everything from the mainstream to the most obscure of titles in non-fiction.
Library G has the best selection of science fiction DVDs. Whether you want to watch The Highlander, The X-Files, Earth 2, The 4400, Star Wars, or Star Trek, this library has the most extensive collection in this area. Why? Are the people who live near Library G really into science fiction? Is that where all the Trekkies live? If so, I want a Convention. I was seriously contemplating ordering a pin that looks just like a Star Trek The Next Generation communicator for my birthday. The only thing that stopped me … well, I was trying to act like a responsible **cough, cough** 40-year-old adult. So, I didn’t.
Library D has the most extensive and prolific collection of biographies. Whether you want to read about a baseball player, a political figure or the front man of a popular 90s heavy metal band, this library has it. They get in new biographies all the time. They even have an entire room with a window seat in it devoted to biographies. After being tortured throughout grade school with book reports and reading about dead people, I never even knew biographies could be exciting, engaging and downright interesting until I discovered this library. In fact, I am actually on the waiting list for a new biography just released in February 2019 to get on inter-library loan from this library.
Library C has the largest collection of large print books I have ever seen anywhere. They’re not just dusty afterthoughts. They keep up the collection and are constantly ordering new books in large print all the time. Sometimes, a new popular book will be all checked out with a waiting list for the “regular print,” yet I am able to find it on the shelf at this library in large print. Look, I’ve worn glasses and/or contacts since the age of 8. We all know I am not getting any younger. I so so so love me some large print. In fact, I often prefer it. This library has it, and it isn’t just your grandmother’s dirty little secret. The large print section is front, center, and large in more ways than just font.
Library M has a very distinct collection of Christian fiction. This library dedicates about half of an entire room to Christian fiction. In all other libraries, I have seen occasional Christian fiction novels mixed in with “general fiction.” This is the first library I have seen that actually gives the genre it’s own distinct space. Not only do they give the genre it’s own area, but this is another library that pays special attention to its particular section. New titles are often ordered in this genre. Not only can you find older, traditional titles, but also newer volumes and series.
Do libraries do this on purpose? Do they notice that a lot of people check out Star Wars and then start ordering more sci-fi movies? Is there some sort of library plot going on? Like, hey, let’s make all the biography readers go to Library D, but if you need it in large print, then you can only find it at Library C. I’m sure there must be some rhyme or reason to this. Either that, or I am the only person who notices this “phenomenon” and am slowly losing my mind.
Not only in my geographic area, but in others, I have noticed “themes” in libraries. When I was growing up, there was Library N that has a large collection of science fiction books. There was Library W (in a completely different state!) that had also had a large section of science fiction books.
I have been in libraries in both rural and urban areas and noticed themes. Do you notice a theme in your library? Any particular genre that seems more prolific than others?
For me, libraries are comfortable. Reading a favorite book can feel like coming home. At the same time, I absolutely love reading something new. I read voraciously.
At various times when I was homeless both as a child and as an adult, libraries are places of refuge. You know you can go into a library to be safe and warm. Library I even allows people to use their library card to check out umbrellas when it was raining.
When I was homeless in a large city as an adult, I would sleep in libraries. It’s a common thing. Quiet, safe place. As long as we weren’t bothering anyone and were in a relatively non-traffic area, the librarians kind of looked the other way. I remember one time when I feel asleep on a library couch and had purposely set a watch alarm to wake me 15 minutes prior to library closing so that I could wake and leave on my own to save the embarrassment of being woke by the librarian.
Unfortunately, I was really tired that day. The alarm went off – and continued to go off – for five minutes until I finally woke up with a librarian and one other very concerned looking individual standing over me. Talk about embarrassing. That library in particular, by the way, had a theme of children. We will call it Library H. The children’s section in that library was huge. It has the largest selection of children’s literature I have ever seen. That library even loans out children’s toys.
I found out about four years ago that that particular library has now closed. It’s collection was donated to Library U on the opposite side of the city. I have not been to visit Library U since it “acquired” Library H. I wonder if Library U now has a children’s theme since it acquired Library H, or if Library U has retained it’s original theme of theology texts.
If library themes are on purpose, I would like to know how and why they are planned. If they are accidental, then it must be some sort of Mayan crop circle concept going on. Or, it could all just be in my mind. We see what we want to see.
Inquiring minds want to know. Does your library have a theme?