Thursday, December 9, 2010

Frustration in the Stacks: A tale of the local library

I've always loved libraries. I loved going to story time, I loved getting books for my mom to read to me, and then I loved getting books for myself--there were always so many that I still hadn't read but wanted to! Today, however, the library was a sad, sad place.

My first clue should have been how dimly lit it was, but I've never subscribed to the pathetic fallacy. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Before Thanksgiving, Lauren and I went to the library to look for an audio book to listen to while we drove to Ohio. We found something or other to be marginally enthusiastic about. We also decided we'd better get some things for Thea, our 11-month-old. We checked out some board books and a DVD, and while we were in the children's section, we saw The Hunger Games audiobook. I'd heard very good things about the novel, so we picked it up and put the other title back. We weren't disappointed, but that's a review I need to write.

We were, however, disappointed when it turned out that they only had The Hunger Games and not either of the sequels. Since we're going on a long trip up to Rockville, IL tomorrow, we decided we needed that sequel, so I got it as a free book from audible (go to as part of a trial membership. I'll probably cancel, though I'm tempted to keep it.

So, as I was saying before I dipped back into the past, I should have known from the dark and stormy look of the library that it would disappoint me. I went in to pick up some different board books and a different DVD for Thea, and what do you think the first thing was that I saw on display in the children's section? Catching Fire, the sequel to The Hunger Games. On audiobook. With a little "NEW" sticker on it.

In other words, I just wasted my free audiobook download from Audible. Thanks for nothing, library.
And then, while I was looking for board books (I got a baby haiku book, a couple Sandra Boynton works, and some more entries in the "That's Not My [insert animal/object]" series), I overheard a conversation between two local high school girls. I'm fairly sure from their conversation that at least one was a senior (unless she's already in college but on one of those long breaks from Thanksgiving to New Year's that some colleges have), because she was talking about what she was going to do--or perhaps was doing--in college.

Now, my assumption would be that the adolescents who work at the library are some of the finer specimens of intellect that a given town has. I mean it's not the illiterate--or even the aliterate--who get jobs at the library, right?

The one girl must have been shelving a dinosaur book, because she was holding forth on how dinosaurs are "in the Bible ... at least indirectly." She didn't believe, in other words, that dinosaur bones are a hoax or God putting them there to test our faith.

"So they were destroyed in the Flood?" The other girl asks.

"No, Noah took all the animals on the ark. But he wouldn't feed the other animals to the dinosaurs, so they starved."

Where to begin? The fact that many species of dinosaurs were vegetarians or the fact that, if you actually believe this story, there must have been predators on board who, after all, would have to eat. Noah fed lions and tigers but took dinosaurs on board only to watch them starve? I mean, it's one thing to believe in fantastical myths. When I was their age, I did too. And even many perfectly capable adults do too. Fine. But how about a little internal consistency, eh?

I'm pretty sure my brain, falling into rhythm with theirs, shut down for a little bit there, stupefied as I was, because I can't recall the rest of the conversation, except that when the other girl asked about carbon dating, the one with the answers simply said that "the theory is good, but the science is wrong."

We have no intention of sending our daughter to the local public schools, in case you were curious.


  1. When I was in elementary school (decades ago) the public library was my haven. I mean - what's better than free books, right? But, my local library now is always a disappointment. The collection is severely lacking, and the main branch smells like a nursing home and not in a good way. They do offer free coffee, however.

    The dinosaur story is almost funny. ALMOST.

    (And thanks for your delightful comment on my blog.)

  2. When I think "childhood" + "library" my first memory is of a really old library where the children's section was downstairs underground with narrow windows at ground level, oh so high above my head. That got torn down so they could build a fancy new small one-story library. It breaks my heart because I must have been five years old when we went to that old library but it is still my favorite.

    As for the girls and the dinosaurs... omg please let's hope they get past that. I mean, they're still young.

    And finally, audible. I've been a member for years and couldn't manage without it. Too bad about the wasted download, though.

  3. AAaargh! Stupefied is the perfect word for an appropriate response to the conversation you overheard. Where would you begin to unravel the ignorance and internal inconsistencies in that drivel? You realize in a few short years those girls themselves will be raising children--and we wonder why anti-intellectual prejudice is so rampant.