A Library I Hate to Love

Anythink:  a library I hate to love?I have a love-hate relationship with my local library, or non-library.

A few years ago, they took “Library” out of their name.  Now they are Anythink.

There are are no librarians in the Anythink.  They have concierges.  If you ask a concierge for assistance in finding a book, he hands you a map.  The maps do not help because the books are not cataloged like they are in a library.  No Dewey Decimal System.  No Library of Congress.  No, none of that.

“Why not?”  we asked on our first visit.  The Anythink is modeled after Barnes and Noble.  It does not catalog books; neither does the Anythink.

Oh, you may be objecting, but the books are still grouped for browsing.  Not so well as you’d hope.  I’m not sure who decides which books go where, but it seems like it might be a class of visiting third graders.

For example, novels with the word “knitting” in them might be with the (non-fiction) knitting pattern books.  Books taking place during World War II may be shelved in world history, American history, or military history.  You guess.  If the book is available in more than one format, it’s designation may change for each format.

Browsing the shelves is an exercise in frustration, so I try to circumvent this by requesting books and letting the concierges pull books from the shelves.  However, the concierges must have the same difficulty, because many days after requesting them, they are still not waiting for me in the holds section despite the computer catalog stating they are shelved in that very branch of non-library.

I think this makes the concierges cranky, so I try to be patient if they argue about things like whether or not I’ve returned a book, or they refuse to look for things that the computer says have been delivered but have not yet made it to the holds shelf.

There are no fines at the Anythink, which is nice unless you are waiting for someone to return a book.

They may not have copies of older books, but they are quick to get new books, and their waiting lists are shorter than the other library systems near me.  Although it’s sad that the books are not in high demand, it works for me, so I really shouldn’t complain.  But I do, of course.

As much as the Anythink frustrates me, I go there all the time.  Or I ask my husband to pick up my holds for me.  Or check out books from their digital collection.

In fair weather, I can ride my bike.  Now they even have drive through check out for holds; I’m going to try that on my bike soon.  I think I’ll enjoy the Anythink more if I don’t actually go inside.


15 thoughts on “A Library I Hate to Love

    • It is much more a community center model than a library model, which might be needed elsewhere, but we have several community centers in our town. More of them than libraries.

  1. I was drinking something, then almost spilled it when I read “I think I’ll enjoy the Anythink more if I don’t actually go inside.” I like the drive-up book pick up idea, but the whole unorganized book thing would make me cranky too. Guess we may all have to keep an eye out for… Anythink is coming to a library near you.

  2. As a former librarian, I think this is crazy. I’m not saying that libraries can’t create their own system,but there has to be some system so that every book has a clearly marked place where it belongs. If the staff can’t even find the books, there is something wrong.

  3. Are you kidding? I don’t think there is a writer who doesn’t have a library story. I mean a story from long ago in our lives when the library was an important marker of growing up. My neighborhood library had a children’s side and an adult side and you had to go through two sets of big doors to get from one side to the other. I don’t know how old I was before I could go into the adult side, but I know I had read almost everything there. Librarians said “sshhhhh” and I had my very own library card.

  4. Geez,half the fun of going to look at books–please note that I didn’t say library–is to browse for books that might interest you. The AnyThink is really weird. We are so fortunate in my area to have a wonderful library! Thanks for sharing!

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