I went to my local public library today, a place I hadn’t been for probably seven years. That sounds a little strange, maybe, but it makes sense. In highschool I would generally just use the school library, and now in university — well, if you can’t find it in the university catalogue, you’ll have a hard time finding it anywhere. And so I haven’t been to the community library in a long, long time.
I was pretty excited to go today. Since I’ve been gone, the library has undergone a massive renovation. It’s quite incredible, really; the place is almost unrecognizable. For the most part, I think, it’s also for the better. The library’s previous look was very dark and dim. Now everywhere is airy and full of light (two full walls are windows). The layout is good, too: more workspace, lots of little nooks with chairs for reading, better computers, well-spaced aisles, etc.
It’s nice. It’s really nice.
It’s strange, too, not just in terms of its difference from the old format (whence the children’s area I remember?). It has been a couple of years, and there is the possibility that I’m mis-remembering, but it seems to me that there are also distinctly fewer books than there used to be. The science fiction section seems to have been gutted. The shelves aren’t full the way they used to be. And the more workspaces and wider aisles seem to mean that there are also fewer shelves.
Fewer shelves . . . fewer books . . . do you think that they’ve maybe missed the point of being a library? Not to knock the reno too much, because the building is much nicer than it used to be. But where have the books gone?