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You Can't Bring Books In Here! This Is a Library! - Blather. Rants. Repeat.
A Møøse once bit my sister ...
You Can't Bring Books In Here! This Is a Library!
If this rant sounds like a rerun, it's because I'm quite sure it is. A little over a year ago, and again in the late fall, battle lines were drawn here in Ye Olde Amherst Towne over efforts to close one of the four public libraries within the municipal limits of my suburban Buffalo hometown.

The Fight of Ought-Five was countywide, part of the dreaded Red Budget/Green Budget game of chicken played by our now-disgraced county executive, and while it did lead to a significant paring of the total county system from more than 50 (then highest per capita in the nation), none of our four got cut. This, despite one of them being within a bike ride of two of the other branches, one three traffic lights north on Evans/Hopkins, the other a few bus stops west on Main.  Closing libraries is like opposing good dental hygiene, and the Ladies Who Volunteer When They're Not Lunching got up a spirited campaign to save the branch.

During the most recent silly season, it was the town budget ax-wielder (not yet disgraced, but he's working on it), who again put the Williamsville branch on the chop block. Once again, out came the pleas, and the petitions, and the pictures of crying children fearing the imminent death of Miss Lucy and their story time (not knowing that Miss Lucy runs the same schtick at the other three branches), and again the branch was saved.

But at what cost?

At the cost of buying new books, is what.  The remaining 37 branches are lucky to have more than a handful of copies of any new work by any up-and-coming author.  While there are plenty of the Graftons and Steeles and Dan Browns to go arown, here are some of the books on moi's Books To Read list that took quite a bit of searching:

Prisoner of Trebekistan- a funny, interesting and surprisingly moving work by a onetime five-time Jeopardy! champion. Two copies in the entire system, one of which is still on my desk. When I picked it up from being requested online, the librarian oohed and ahhed and was shocked it had been so under-acquisitioned. The same two copies that were there then are all there is now.

Cattery Row- okay, I'm prejudiced on this one. The author, Clea Simon, was a high school classmate of mine who actually made it at this Book Writin Thang, with this, the second of her fictional mystery works, having come out last year. In theory, nine of the 37 branches have a copy; however, several are coded as "being transferred between libraries," which I've discovered to be Librarianspeak for anything from "REALLY being transferred between libraries" to "we'll shelve them when they finally arrive." And almost all are coded "new book," sucktastic for something which came out in August.

Finally, the one I done did something about:

Yes, he's going to babble about that Joss Jackson chick again.

I loved her first book. I wanted to read her second. I found it sick that an award-winning author was only represented in three out of 37 branches, one of them (the one I hunted down and checked out) having been rained on so badly its spine was now the size of the Manhattan telephone book.  In December, I wrote the author to see if there was any kind of donation program to put a little bit of money where my big bit of mouth was. She researched. There was and is. A lovely lady at Central Branch can get eight more copies of Between into the hands of almost three times as many readers as can check it out now. The check, for these purposes, is in the mail. It's about three bucks short of the full no-tax non-profit price which Beans and Noodles charges the library. They're picking up the tab on the difference.

No, it shouldn't be this way. Our schools and libraries should have everything they need and the Air Force should have to hold a bake sale if it wants that 310th extra bomber. We should also think with our entire brains, not just the parts attached to buildings, when deciding whether to spend our limited
dollars on bricks versus books. For now, though, it'll have to do.
5 comments or Leave a comment
headbanger118 From: headbanger118 Date: January 9th, 2007 12:39 am (UTC) (Link)
It's rather sad the way the things are going in libraries. My mother-in-law is a retired employee of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg library system, and she lamented about it often.
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 10th, 2007 12:39 am (UTC) (Link)

Joshilyn Jackson

Dude, you so rock! Joss posted this link in her FTK blog, and I had to come check it out. Like you, I love her books. "Between, Georgia" was actually my "Best of the Best for 2006" on my book review site, deeanddeedish.blogspot.com
Like you, I find it very sad that libraries often are so very underfunded. I love the whole idea of libraries, even though I still find myself in bookstores more often than not.
My local library loves donations, and I did donate one copy of Between and one copy of gIA to them. I think it was easier for me to tell all my friends "Hey, I know for a fact the library has a copy" than it was for me to keep buying them. I've bought way more than a few. And unlike the library, I simply can NOT loan out my copies. They're signed, you see, and I might cry if somebody dribbled coffee on them or something.
Anywhooo, good for YOU!!
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 11th, 2007 12:16 am (UTC) (Link)

Joss & Raven

I hear ya!! I live in a wee, small ghost town in northern ontario, Canada!! WE have one small library, NO bookstore! ... I can't get Joshilyn Jackson's book, nor Patzi Raven's(Behind the Stained-Glass Window),, and it's like--how many science books, does a library need?? We ain't all rocket scientists up here in the north--some of us like to read stories!! with loving kindness, North http://spiritsinmotion.blogspot.com/
From: heathertruett Date: January 11th, 2007 03:53 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you much!

The world, at least the literary world, needs more of you. *grins* I came over from Joss' link, as well.
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 5th, 2007 01:28 pm (UTC) (Link)

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5 comments or Leave a comment