Library changes

I've been a library member since before I could read. I happily strolled along on my little legs with my big sister and my parents and I filled their cards up to the limit with the picture books I found in the boxes on the floor, when they thought it was time to get me my own library card. Yahoo then I could take more books home :).

I remember very well the old library building in my home town near the school, housed in the previous town hall. The youth section was at the street side with the big neo gothic windows. The first books I could read were located at the entrance to the right and I was quickly addicted to the Pietje Puk series. The next year I could move more to the left and I moved on to Meester Pompelmoes.

And then the library moved to a brand new building 1 block further and the youth organisations in my town helped moving and it all got inaugurated with a marching band etc. Good fun.
I really loved the new library, it was so modern & light and had nice sitting corners and a play house for the little kids (which I no longer was). I devoured books and I could find my favourite authors just by location on the racks.

That's something which has never changed. The fact that I worked as a teenager a few summer jobs in the library putting away all the returned books in the racks, probably largely contributed to that (and the fact that I still have the compulsion to reorganize books alphabetically when I see mistakes and to put them all aligned and up straight is to blame on those jobs too).
Anyway, when entering the library, I was first greeted by Isabel Allende and only science fiction I've ever enjoyed by Asimov. The successful Belgian police detectives in Bruges written by Aspe were already on the backside of that rack. Since the John Grishams in Dutch were always unavailable, I had to turn left to the small English section and grab one in English right at the point where the racks made a curve on the shelf just below eye level. All the Agatha Christies were near the street window, authors with a K or L stood near the comic strips and the historic novels by Sinoué were way at the back at the bottom shelf.

When I lived in Ghent, I could still go back and forth to my familiar library in my home town, but driving up & down from Leuven is a bit too far so I became member of the local library here.
At first I couldn't find my way there. The strict architecture of the former technical school, designed by the famous Belgian art nouveau architect Henry Van De Velde with the abundance of big windows, patio's and the all white shelves aligned in the same direction gave a cold & very modern & strict feeling, very much in contrast with the many cosy corners, colours & carpets I was used to in my home town library. But I grew to love it very much and I point out to Jan when "Man bijt Hond " is on tv that the library shoots there are taken in Leuven as if he wouldn't be aware of that.

The organization of the books was quite different: different categories (much more than I was used to) such as "true stories" , "travel stories", "biographies", "phantasy", ... were in separate racks apart from the other novels. Sometimes it's quite hard to know whether to look up an author or book among the generic novels or in one of the special categories a. As a result I often need to search the location of a book on the computers to ensure the book simply isn't in or whether I'm looking at the wrong spot. But after 3 years I started to know what is where.

And then the library closed last month for reorganization and my location based memory is again completely at loss since I walked in the first time after they have been reopened. Gone was the quite-up-in-your-face wall of lockers where many signs repeatedly told you to leave all your bags before entering the building (ok there's still lockers but hidden now on the backside of a wall), gone is the ugly conveyor belt at the entrance on which you had to leave your returned books....replaced by some sort of computer wall which I have not tried yet since I had dropped off all my last books in the street side deposit box during their closure.
The entrance looked much more open and wide since the restricting entrance gates had been replaced by more modest transparent open detection panels where you could freely walk by (with bags...since it wasn't so obvious anymore where the lockers were hidden) . Where used to be the desks & personnel's cabinets were some lower self-scan tables and a long set of benches to sit down.

I walked in towards Michael Connelly but he was gone....replaced by non-fiction books. Huh? Where are the novels? Where they were the travel guides used to be....euh nope still non-fiction there. Jodi Picoult was also replaced by non-fiction. I made some confused turns next to some very pretty & colourful design lounge chairs where some people at the spot where reading where the special categories books used to be.

After some thought I realized that fiction must have moved to the first floor where I had never been before so cautiously I walked up and made a slow walk or two along the isles to re-inventorise my brain. My first visit was probably not sufficient to breeze the next time straight to the books I am looking for but at least I was able to find all what I was looking for after looking around a bit. Pretty annoying that there's still quite a few "special categories" but that they've changed once again. Why is there some Jodi Picoult's in the detectives shelves and others among the generic novels? That's is simply confusing. I'd like to have all the books by one author at least at the same location.

When it was time to check-out I put my books on one of the many nice new self-service check-out desks that are located at both floors where some flyers announced the library reorganization and also asked for some patience during the test month May when some problems still might occur. Immediately a nice lady hurried to me. "Is it the first time you need to use this? Let me show you how it's done". Hmm either they clearly anticipate problems or they now excel in customer service.
Indeed there was a of the books I had chosen refused to be self-scanned so I had to tag along to one of the rare populated desks anyway so the book could get fixed. At the same time my library registration got extended for another year, after which I was simply sent back to the self-scanner to register that last book on my card, this time on my own. Nevertheless a young guy who had been sitting on one of the benches nearby hurried up but then returned when clearly I had already figured out how to register my book. Hehe they must be trained to sit invisibly near a self-scan table and jump up when somebody is going to use them. I'm sure you can do some jokes right now :p.

At the building's exit I still had to pay the fee for my library registration in a paying automate since none of the desks accepts payments anymore. Also that is self-service but that had been the case already since a year.

Well I'll have to get used to the changes but the new library did give me a much more relaxed, open, loungy atmosphere, where you just walk in and out, take a book, scan it, walk on, read a bit, scan another book and walk out again. I think I'll get used to it again. I hope their security is tight enough to notice if not all books get scanned before leaving the building or when fees are too far overdue. But please stop rearranging the author's locations now. I do enjoy it if that's stable!


Brian Miller said…
smiles. we love the library...i have picoult's new book right now, and i am overdue...shhh...dont tell anyone...will finish it tonight. ours is pretty well automated, but there are still librarians to help as needed...ours are nice.
Snooker said…
Awwww... I LOVE libraries.
But noting your constant confusion at where books are makes me quite happy that I grew up with the Dewey Decimal System. True standardization! Wonderful!
Goofball said…
@snooker: yes we have that classification everywhere for non-fiction...but what about novels? does that exist as well?

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