We have become accustomed to ordering our books from Amazon, downloading audio versions from iTunes, or buying our reading material at local brick ‘n mortars, be it a little indie shop-around-the-corner or a big box Costco. We look for a bargain, but still, we pay.
The library, which offers all of the above for free, isn’t as popular, like the last kid picked for dodge ball.
But libraries are no longer just places where out-of-print books, yesterday’s newspapers, party-mix CDs (ah … cassettes), and every National Geographic magazine from its first publication in 1888 live happily ever after. Gone are microfiche readers and card catalogs, and even “library voices.”
If you haven’t been lately, libraries now have state-of-the art technology, wireless access, and online “reservations” for bestsellers just published.
And librarians? Well, they’re no longer just behind the desk checking out books, calculating late fees, or shelving returns and hosting storytime for toddlers. Today’s librarians have become cheerleaders for the library system, dreaming up clever new ways to bring in readers.
Take, for example, Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Public Librarian, Karen, whose book club “kits” have become a book club “hit.” One such kit included several copies of The Home for the Friendless, donated by author Betty Auchard – which I was lucky to have edited – complete with discussion questions.
Karen, and all the other librarians, are my superheroes … busy fighting the crime of obsolescence. Like the original BatGirl, by the way, whose alter ego Barbara Gordon was head librarian for the Gotham City Public Library.