My community’s newly remodeled and technologically updated public library, a part of the Dayton Metro Library system, is rather bewildering, as well as a disappointment.
It feels more like a community room or some kind of teen country club. No longer does it have that sense of, “Oh, my gosh! Something wonderful is inside because this building holds treasures of knowledge.”
It’s a library, all right, but our community library is far from being a true library as many of us have known. There are only a handful of books in each section, if any, and most of the space feels like someone’s basement family room. It is very trendy and comfortable and just missing a ping pong and pool table.
Technology wise, I couldn’t ask for anything better; however, the books, once the heartbeat of almost every library, are a faint flicker of the past.
There always seems to be an ample amount of staff manning the floor, but when not reaching out to actually be of service to patrons, they stand around like they are attending a viewing at Tobias funeral home. There’s no personal warm greetings and friendly interactions, if any are shared, are robotic at best. It’s very sterile and I always feel as though I’m in a scene from a concentration camp with the guards watching my every move. It’s not paranoia; just the lack of warmth.
Independence is the latest fad at bank ATMs and Uscan checkouts at stores and our libraries are now a part of the fad. For me, it is fine as I seldom wish to interact with employees, but there are a good many older folks who do appreciate the personal interactions which were once a part of our world.
One staff member, standing next to me as I attempted to check out books for the first time with the new checkout system, actually snapped at me, grabbed my books to actually do the scanning, then proceeded to treat me as though I was an unattended first grader with whom she’d begrudgingly been straddled.
I was so taken aback that I actually was at a loss for words and I think the last time that occurred I was either 6 months old or under sodium brevitol in the dentist’s chair.
Gone is the warmth of the staff that was once one of the hallmarks of this particular library.
I do miss being able to go in and peruse the shelves, running my fingers across the spines of books before grabbing a comfy nook in which to scan through my finds. There are numerous comfy nooks, to be sure, but no books. Now, I peruse/search all my books online from home and receive a notice within a few days that I can retrieve them from my local library. If I want intimacy with books, actually holding them in my own hands, I go to the downtown library, which is actually my new favorite haunt.
I don’t mind the new technology but I find it peculiar how we want to encourage children to read or go outside, yet, we provide them with more reason to remain inside staring at a screen.
This is the Carnegie library building in my hometown, Elwood, Indiana. I was a patron many years before working here all four years of my high school tenure. I loved this building and it was the best job for a high school student.