Well, it's been awhile since I've had a library card. Things have sure changed.
I applied for the card on-line so that it would be waiting for me upon my first visit; there was no such thing as on-line when I last used the public library system. When I entered the library, I saw three people at computer terminals at desks near the exit and mistakenly assumed they worked there. I made a complete fool of myself and asked the closest one, "Excuse me, where do I pick up my library card?"
The look on his face said "I'm not the hired help"; out loud he said, "Well, I would imagine with that lady over there?" The one that actually works here, yeah, I get it. The people standing at these terminals were library patrons checking out their own books. In the old days, you handed your stack of books to the librarian to check you out. She stamped a little card on the inside jacket with the date that you had to return the book. Now it's self serve!
I picked up my library card from a woman that actually worked at the library and went in search for my first library book in 20 years. I got completely sidetracked by the huge reading room filled with new releases. All these wonderful books and TOTALLY FREE! It's a million times better than that feeling I get in a bookstore.
On my way to the older books, I stumbled upon a rack where you could purchase three paperbacks for one dollar. I almost immersed myself in this section when I remembered; there are FREE books here! I found the book I was looking for, a Steven King memoir about the craft of writing.
On my way out, I drifted through the thousands of magazines--but I only had five minutes left on my parking meter, so needed to high-tail it to check out. I didn't want to embarrass myself again, so I carefully scoped out another actual library employee. She showed me how to scan my library card so that my name pops up on the check-out terminal. Now, I simply had to enter the last four digits of my phone number. The last four digits of my phone number--what are the last four digits of my phone number? There goes my attempt at avoiding embarrassing myself again.
I kept saying my area code and the first three digits out loud, but the next four digits would not follow. Nothing I could do could bring them out of my memory bank. She sympathized that this happens to a lot of people. That helped, I remembered. She showed me how to scan the book, and out came the receipt with my due date. She told me that I could renew it on my home computer from the comfort of my own home.
The other book I wanted wasn't at this branch, but through the miracle that is the modern library system, it will be waiting for me at my branch when I return this one.
Why does anyone go to the bookstore?