Monday, December 8, 2008

I always dreamed you'd be my library buddy

My friend Carolyn gave me the first book in Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series for my birthday. Due to various circumstances, I just started reading it last week. I really enjoyed the book, so when I finished it this morning, I was anxious to start the second one in the series.

I have also been wanting to take Emily to the library to just play around and hang with other kids, but she has been sick for SO long, and I feel bad bringing my child out to play with other children with her nose pouring. I take her out if it would waste money not to (like to the gym with me and to her sing and sign class) but otherwise we've been pretty sequestered from other kids.

So for reasons more selfish than I like admitting, I bundled her up today and took her to the library. I quickly grabbed the book I came for, then went downstairs and set her loose in the children's wing of the library.

At first she just enjoyed running up and down the aisles, but then she came upon the little play house that sits smack in the middle of the children's section. And right in the middle of the house was a giant stuffed Elmo, with whom she played for quite awhile. I've said it before...I don't know what it is about Elmo but Emily loves him despite her fairly limited contact with him.

We met some cute little kids who were very nice to Emily, and while I was trying to guide Emily through her first usage of a water fountain (she just stuck her mouth in the water and let it all fall right back out, giggling the whole time) we met a nice but WAY too helpful little girl who immediately befriended us and began following us around piling random books in the stroller and screaming "Hey Guys! Wait up!" if I got too far ahead of her while chasing down my toddler.

Upon checking out, it was discovered that I owed $21.80 in library fees. Oops. Most of that was for a book that I had checked out to pass the 2 weeks before I was due to give birth to Emily; the 2 weeks I spent in the hospital and caring for a newborn instead of wiling away the hours on the couch with a book, stroking my giant belly as I had pictured. Anyway, needless to say that book didn't get returned for quite some time after Emily's arrival, plus there were books about Peru which hadto've been from when we actually went to Peru which was almost 3 years ago, and some books I checked out last spring. I don't really mind paying late fees at the library...I consider it my donation for a free service, but I was a bit peeved that I have had books that were overdue accruing late fees for 3 years and no one ever mentioned it so that I could pay the fees before they got so steep. Oh well. It's mostly my fault, but I do kind of depend on the library to tell me when I have late fees and how much they are.

The bad part was that they don't take credit cards, so I had to re-bundle Emily, push her out down the lengthy handicapped ramp, up through the parking garage, carry her up the stairs in her stroller, get the checkbook from my car, carry her back down the stairs, back out of the parking garage, back up the ramp and into the library to pay my fees. Then it took the librarian (who resembled an owl, like most librarians should, but definitely not any of the more intelligent species of owl) over 10 minutes to get my fees paid and books checked out, and despite the fact that Emily was totally freaking out by that point she made me update my address because I was stupid enough to've mentioned that I had moved earlier in the conversation.

So all in all it took me about half an hour longer than I had hoped to get out of there, which is no good when you decided to leave in the first place because your toddler was starting to get whiney and antsy. But our library does rock, and I was able to get some new Baby Einstein DVDs and new Disney CDs to listen to in the car without having to shell out money for them. I'm just as happy to swap out for new music and DVDs every couple weeks anyway, because although the children's entertainment doesn't seem to bother me as much as it does some people (namely Will), I do also have my limits. And as long as I get my deadbeat butt back there to return everything in time, the checking out process should be much easier in the future.

And despite the fact that I was towing a little raggamuffin around with me and trying to go about my business as quickly as possible, I enjoyed visiting the library, and I realized I've missed it. From the tiny bookmobile that used to pull up in front of my house every week as a child, to the gigantic McKeldin Library that allowed you to feel as far away from other people as was ever possible in College Park (you just had to look out for the flashers) I love libraries, and I love how they make me feel. Like all the knowledge of mankind is sitting there, ready for you to learn it. I am good friends with the internet, but it's no library. And sure, I usually end up checking out something from the fiction section instead of anything that will actually expand my knowledge in the slightest, but at least I feel like the possibility is there, and hopefully when she gets older Emily will too.

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