Mr. Decimal, I presume

5 Feb

I’m a huge fan of libraries. Until the day I left for college, I was on a first-name basis with all the librarians at Lepper Library in Lisbon, Ohio. I spent copious hours in the college libraries first at Bowling Green and then at Kent State. As I moved into my mid and late 20s and found myself with some disposable income, I decided that I would build my personal library instead of patronizing a public library.

Now, I’m not talking about about rare and collectible books, instead just my favorite authors (which have changed vastly over the years) sitting on my bookshelf and available at my beck and call. It took me until hitting about 30, going through some major life changes and downsizing my possessions during a couple of moves in a short period of time – to come back to the public library.

When I started living in Lakewood, I made a visit to the Lakewood Public Library. I made my initial visit, checked out some books, read them and then returned them late. It took me another about another two years to make my way back in and pay my fine, which I did tonight when I was there for a Society for Professional Journalists Cleveland meeting. Much to my joy, they took my $2, told me I was back in good standing and happily helped me find a couple of books I was looking to check out.

Now, for years, my book-finding experiences have been focused on bookstores, which are neatly organized by type of book – History, Psychology, Mystery, Fantasy, etc., etc. Wasn’t I shocked when much to my chagrin, I was reminded this evening that public libraries are organized according to the infamous Dewey Decimal System.

It only took a matter of seconds for me to determine that Mr. Decimal and I are definitely not on a first-name basis. On a superficial level, it makes zero sense to me. But when I sit and actually think about it, with the hundreds of thousands and hundreds of thousands of books that exist on library shelves around the country, I see more clearly the need for an organized, methodical organizational system. My gracious thanks to the librarians who are the dedicated keepers and protectors of books…while I’m able to just walk in, ask for your assistance and immediately find the book after which I was lusting.

Mr. Decimal, I tip my hat to you. Oh, and dear Lakewood Public Library, I plan to return these books on time, and you’ll be seeing a lot more of me – ’cause, hey, buying 100 new books in a year for this challenge is just plain cost prohibitive. I’m happy to be back in the public library fold.

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4 Responses to “Mr. Decimal, I presume”

  1. millerd10 February 5, 2010 at 3:01 am #

    When I was a kid in elementary school, I was hired as a library page in the elementary school library. I was paid 75 cents an hour to shelve books.Mrs. Davidson, the assistant librarian, used to follow in my tracks to make sure I gave the books enough breathing room. If she felt I was insufficient in that area, she'd wiggle the books back and forth and say "too tight, too tight, too tight."Once a month, at 75 cents an hour, I would get a paycheck of about $7 and go to the corner drugstore and spent the entire wad on candy to eat while reading.I'm intimately familiar with Dewey. He's hard to get out of my mind. I like things in the 100s, 900s and 700s.

  2. The Book Pimp February 5, 2010 at 2:38 pm #

    I am also quite the library devotee, but I love the online reserve process for the Columbus Metropolitan Library. I can browse to my heart's content online, place reserves, get an email when my books are in and run to the library on my lunch break. It is much more efficient than browsing around the small branch near my office.If you and Becky ever come into town and are interested, we could make a trip to the huge library downtown. It is actually a really cool building, and I am always up for checking out more books!

  3. Kate February 5, 2010 at 7:19 pm #

    I should have worked for the library growing up, though I never would have taken home an actual paycheck. I was a chronic late-book returner, so I probably paid the library enough over the years to pay for a wing in my honor. And a good reminder to start using an online reservation system. I could do it for Cleveland Public Library, since it's literally around the corner from my office…and totally just pick up the books at lunch. (Note to self: get on that!)And I'm always up for a trip to a library. Will have to coordinate next time I'm in C-bus.

  4. Nancy143 February 5, 2010 at 11:22 pm #

    I love the library. I use the online reservation system a ton. I've also found that I'm a snob when it comes to book size and font choice when I physically browse at the library.If the title style on the spine of the book is ugly, I don't even pull it out to look at it. Same with super-short (height) books with lots of pages. Good thing on-line browsing is more about content!

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