January 06, 2004

amazoneurosis--a cure for the one-click illness

It's an illness in reverse. You know, the one-click phenomenon. I think I've spent a couple thousand dollars on books the last two years, which to some won't seem like a lot, but because I've probably read four of them, actually comes out to around $500 per read. I can't resist finding everything I need or think I need or never knew I needed on amazon. It's way too easy. One click, a visa debit, and that's all she wrote--or read.

So last night I took Jenna to the big public library by the YMCA we joined. I remember posting two years ago about walking into a library and being amazed at how I'd forgotten the beauty and simple joy of a library. The dot-com-gimmes wiped away all previous recollection of walking in the door to the public library, smelling the books--old and new--, spying the volumes of newspaperes, feeling the smoothness of those plastic book jackets, thick and crinkley, the way it feels to open a fat hardcover, the sound of the platic cover bending at the spine--like opening the best present in the world.

And it's free.

How did I forget?

Where have I been when walking into a library feels like walking into a time capsule? LOOK at all the books! Everything, right there, touchable, readable, and yours for the taking. Videos, audiotapes, research volumes, kids' books galore. Cubicles--remember them? I haven't sat at a cubicle since New York State Regents exams, when we took our tests in wooden cubicles with tall wooden edges, students lined up like bookends to keep us from cheating.

I had to update my library card. I almost had to pay a $30 fine for losing the Sesame Street "To tell the truth" video which we apparently checked out from another library in 2001. But we went home, scoured the house, took every video out of every shelf, and finally we found it. Off we went back to the library, where they were nice enough to charge us a $5.00 extended late fee charge. Only $5.00 for being three years late. I wish my creditors were that understanding.

I love those people at the library. They get to open and close dozens, maybe hundreds, of books each day. Taking the little cards out, putting the due-date card in, and thumping the cover closed. They smile and talk softly. Very calming. I paid them $10 and bought a "Friends of the Library" tote bag.

You can have 75 items out on your library card at one time. 75 items!!! You just can't beat that.

Go to your local library.