Thursday, January 03, 2019

Back to school and a spontaneous rant about libraries

The kids went back to school today, which feels far too soon. It was so cold this morning that we beat out all the places I checked yesterday, including Shelley, so we won the award for being the coldest. The kids weren't thrilled about walking to school, but I assured them it would be a good experience. None of them ended up walking, however.

Andrew dropped Rachel off early on his way in to campus and a neighbour stopped to pick up Benjamin and Miriam so they didn't have to freeze.

So the only one who ended up walking to school was Zoë. Alexander and I made the chilly walk with her, but it was only a few houses down the street so it wasn't too bad, and as much as I was loath to send them all back to school today I have to admit that it was nice to have a quiet house for a few hours.

In the afternoon I bundled up the little ones again so that we could walk to the school to meet the big kids. Rachel is participating in the school musical and today was the first rehearsal and parent meeting for that. Andrew's schedule is still fairly flexible but, alas, he had a meeting this afternoon and wasn't able to leave in time to get home for me to go without the kids. He was, however, able to leave in time to greet the kids after their walk home from school. So once we got to the school I sent the little kids back home with Miriam and Benjamin (who took turns pulling the wagon) and it worked out just perfectly.

Andrew arrived home a few minutes before the children, I was on time for Rachel's meeting (and I didn't have to keep any little people with me).

Benjamin also managed to find his home reading book that had been lost forever and for which a rather hefty fine was looming (sorry, but $6 is a lot for a book that doesn't even cost $6). It was in the home reading book bin at school and just never got switched out (so totally our fault). I think the home reading program is a good idea in theory but it's never worked well for my kids in practice, though I must say that Benjamin enjoyed the new book that he brought home today (it was an Iron Man book). It's kind of like a library "grab bag." Instead of selecting a book they are sent home with one at random (but at their reading level).

They still get to browse the stacks in their school library, but they only get to check out one book and that book has to stay in their classroom. They can't take it home, at least, not in the younger grades; Rachel and Miriam are allowed to take books home.

Speaking of which,* we're excited to move to an area with (what we hope has) a better library system. We only have access to a small-town library here and it's...small-towny. It's fine. And we visit. And we go to story time. It's just also...dinky.

For example, I thought that I would pick up some books about Georgia when we were at the library a few weeks ago, before we'd told the kids that we'd gotten a job and were going to be moving, so that when we told them the news we could sit down and explore our new state together.

They had one book about Georgia. One.

And I couldn't find it on the shelf so I asked the librarian about it, but in retrospect I can see that I wasn't forthright enough in my speech for an American, probably (a constant problem of mine).

I said, "I'm looking for [this book about Georgia]," flashing the card I'd written the title, author, and call number on, "But I can't find it on the shelf."

And the librarian sighed sympathetically (or exasperatedly?) and said, "Well, I don't know where else it would be."

Really? Okay. Thanks. Bye.

I just checked the catalogue again, just to be sure that there is only one book about Georgia (there is only one book about Georgia) and to see if I had missed a clue in its location somehow (and I did). It has a normal call number, so I went to that shelf and looked and it was definitely not there because there is a note on its record (that I missed originally) saying that it is kept behind the desk.

Why? Why? WHY?

So many whys!

Why do they only have one book about Georgia? Do people not want to learn about Georgia? Or anything, really, because their non-fiction section is weirdly small. But perhaps I'm the only one with a child obsessed with facts.

Why is the book kept behind the desk? Is there some questionable content within? It's a juvenile fiction book so enquiring minds want to know.

Why didn't the librarian help me further? Isn't an overly helpful attitude a personality trait for librarians? I know a handful of librarians (or, you know, hundreds of them) and it seems like solving problems like this one is what they live for.

I have other questions about our library. But it's fine. It'll be fine. (They don't even use tattle-tape). It'll be fine.

Yes, we're very much looking forward to being in a place with a library system.


* And now for the speaking of which part: After we told the kids that we'd be moving to Georgia, I told them that I had wanted to bring home some books about Georgia to look at but that I couldn't find any. So the very next day, Miriam came home from school and plopped a book about Georgia in my hands. She'd used her check out privileges just for me!

She often does that, really. She's checked out some of the Princess in Black books that we don't have (we have the first few but not the later ones) so that Zoë could read them (or have them be read to her). She will sometimes check out books for Benjamin. She's cute and thoughtful like that.

And I honestly think their elementary school library has a better selection than our town library (or are we a city? If we're a city we're a small one).


  1. Well, I can find books about Georgia for you, I bet! I am glad Miriam found one for you.

    1. We should check out the BYU library. We haven't taken the kids there for quite a while and they have an excellent selection!

  2. I was really struggling to even process what you were saying about the library - I kept thinking that surely there just aren't books about Georgia currently available at that particular location. I'm so used to being places with a library system that my brain just couldn't comprehend a single library (with poor selection to boot!). I'm so sorry - that sounds incredibly frustrating! On the bright side, it provides one more thing to look forward to in your new home!