Friday, September 19, 2014

If I were King of the library: The Seventh Decree

It has been a long time since I did one of these Dr. Seuss "If I ran the Library" sorts of posts, but for the past few weeks I have been thinking about them again. I felt maybe it was time for something new in my little dream library, my fiefdom, but what? Then, this morning, in my role as supply procurer, I received a library catalog supplement, and on the cover was my answer. There, featured, was an old fashioned book pocket with checkout card, and a date/month stamp.
The Retro Library!

The Retro Library shall be gloriously, nostalgically analog! It will be its own discreet section of the library, cataloged purely in a beautiful, burnished antique wooden card catalog system. There will be hand checkouts only, in some arcane system we'll need some old person to explain to us. There shall be no computers, blocked WiFi, check your cell phone at the door, and, here's the kicker: no books constructed later than 1970 will be allowed. This means the librarians will have to be creative, passionate about collection, and fanatic, inspired book collectors (set them loose with a reasonable budget on the struggling, non chain used book stores in town. No, they cannot order online!). Those among my readers who are not library workers and not strongly acquainted with libraries will no doubt say "That is the simplest thing in the world! Surely that would easily describe the skills, ambitions, and talents of every public librarian there is!" Alas, but for those of us who know, the reality is less sunny. All that being forced to walk the cruel line between popularity and quality, buying from one big vendor, having so little room to experiment, has dulled their ancient skills. Here is their chance to take it back.

And in our Retro Library we need not stop with the collection, or the cataloging, or the checkout system. Our decor, our furniture, our shelving, shall all be pre-1970. So too will our phone, which we will keep under a towel in a drawer because it's a library and we need to muffle the ringer. Our dress code shall be pre-1970 (for staff, but if patrons want to dress up, more power to them). I am willing to put on a nice, baggy brown suit to pull a stint in there. I don't know if I'm willing to shush people, but I think I can work up to that.

So there it is, our completely retro library section. Put on a derby hat or some bobby socks or something, hop on a streetcar, and come on by! But not in the evenings or weekends. We'll be going with the retro hours as well.

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