Sabtu, 22 Mei 2010

A Modest Proposal

I love libraries. I think I’ve made that clear in previous posts. I love libraries in general and I love, specifically, those libraries that feel like home to me. I love the East Lansing Public Library, and I love the people who work there: a fantastic staff of children’s librarians who are kind, patient, generous, and funny; several friendly, approachable reference librarians who are smart and curious and helpful; and all of the people who greet me with smiles when I walk in, who help me check-out my selections when I am ready to leave, and who accept my payments for overdue books with grace and diplomacy and never make me feel embarrassed for my irresponsibility.

I don’t, generally, feel too bad about giving money to the library. It goes to a good cause! I’m still getting a tremendous value! (I have, on several occasions, checked out my maximum of 30 books; and librarians have, on several occasions, purchased books they did not have when I requested them.) But sometimes I discover a New Release Book, which can only, legally, be checked out for two weeks. And sometimes two weeks is not long enough with something you love. And sometimes I keep things longer than I am supposed to, and then it becomes rather more like renting books than borrowing books. So it is, or so it will soon be, with John McPhee’s Silk Parachute. I’m a huge McPhee fan. I own at least one copy of most of his books, and in some cases I have duplicates so I can loan them out without fear. When I saw Silk Parachute on the New Release Shelf I had to have it, which is to say I had to borrow it, which is to say I am now renting it. It is overdue, and I really need to get it turned in and settle up my account. But this time I’m battling a new sort of agitation and guilt. By borrowing (renting) this book from the library, I’ve had a chance to read it and am now less inclined to purchase it. When I pay my fines, I will be paying, in part, for the pleasure of reading the book, and I feel as though some of that should go to the author. I know: the library purchased his book. They can collect the overdue fines. BUT… shouldn’t authors of Books Too Good to Return on Time get a cut too? What a fantastic poster that would make: 20 Percent Of All Overdue Fines Go Directly To The Author! It could add up…

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