04. November 2011 · 9 comments · Categories: Life

The library I work for is entering phase one of a major remodeling project to be completed, hopefully, by February. The library is nearly 12 years old and is in dire need of new carpeting (heavily trafficked areas are currently held together with duct tape), paint and a better configuration of the furniture and computers. I’m really excited about the changes that are coming and will happily sacrifice comfort during the construction phase. I am the kind of person who is affected by the environment I’m in and have been known to avoid certain stores if I don’t like the “feel” of them. For instance, there is a well known bookstore in my area that has great used books and reasonable prices, but I refuse to shop there because it is smelly, dirty and not pleasing to the eye. But I’ve discovered that not everyone cares about the atmosphere of the library or stores they use. My cousin mentioned that she doesn’t care one bit about what her library looks like or how it is arranged – she’s just there to gather her books and go. This observation has made me curious:

Do you care about the atmosphere or feel of your library or bookstore? Are you affected by how it looks or smells?

Hoover, Alabama Public Library

9 Comments

  1. I do, definitely! There is a branch of our city library system near me, but I don’t like going there. It has an unwelcoming, uncomfortable feeling to me – and it also seems to be more of a computer center than a library. The nearby branch of the county library system is small, but it feels very comfortable and I always look forward to going there. With bookstores, it’s interesting how some feel like the equivalent of a grocery store (books as commodities), and others seem full of readers. And it’s not just independents vs. chains – one reason I miss the Borders stores.

    • Oh, I don’t like the grocery store feel either, but I do like order and cleanliness. I think Borders was a good balance and it is our loss they’re gone now!

  2. My local library is nearly 100 years old and hasn’t changed much in ages but it’s the staff that make a library for me and often they aren’t very friendly so the atmosphere suffers. I don’t understand why they are like that because it would be more pleasant for them too if they were more human. I love second hand bookshops but only when they’re clean and the books are in good order. Otherwise they drive me round the bend!

    • Thanks for the observation about the staff – I sometimes forget that library patrons even pay attention to us, but I know they are watching! It gives me renewed dedication to being better at customer service.

  3. My local library has been modernised and computerised at a cost of millions of pounds and fitted with low-level shelving (for which 6000 books have been discarded). I hate it … I check from home if the book I want is in stock, then simply run in and collect it. It’s just a book depot – and the staff seem completely demoralised.
    Fortunately I’m aIso a member of another library that looks like a library, real old-fashioned wooden shelving and old stock is stored in the basement and can be retrieved in 10 minutes. And I’ll browse there for ages and go away with new discoveries. Funnily enough, library b) is calm and peaceful and library a) is a hangout for noisy teenagers who are never hushed.

    • That’s too bad about your local library. I hope my library doesn’t end up like that. We already have lots of noisy teens because we are 1/2 mile from the high school. I think the new configuration of the furniture and shelving is going to help solve our problem, though, instead of make it worse!

  4. our is thirty years old and has a feel of that time ,I visited a few new libraries and they are ok but sometimes it looks like the books take second place to design ,all the best stu

  5. Yes I do. I donate regularly to Oxfam books but am ashamed to say I don’t very often buy. If books are have yellowing pages or unidentifiable stains or smell of cigarette smoke I just don’t buy. Over-fastidious I know. Very interesting subject to post on.

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