Sunday, March 3, 2019

Resisting or Embracing Change at the Library

Over a decade ago, I briefly worked in a library. One day, shortly after I started, a couple came up to the circulation counter. He was smiling. She was not. I took her card and her pile of books and began to check them out. She began to tell me how sucky it was that the card catalogue was now gone, replaced with a computer. I smiled at her and perkily began to extol the virtues of middle-of-the-night searches on the library website. Her frown deepened and her voice became something of a growl as she said through gritted teeth, 'I liked the card catalogue.' Her companion was still smiling--almost laughing--when he jerked his thumb in her direction, tilted his head a bit that way, too, and said, 'She really misses the physical card catalogue.' 'I see,' I replied, managing not to burst out laughing. They were soon on their way. I hope that she has come to grips by now with the library website searches and no longer feels such longing for the old card catalogues. I continue to be overjoyed at the way I can come across a book title or have something pop into my head and go straight for the library website, find it, place it on hold, and have it appear, as if by magic, at my local library, even if it usually lives at a library at the other end of the country. And how great is it that I can click over to the e-audiobook/e-book section and find fabulous things there. Or, if I am in the mood for magazines, I go to the digital magazine app and read one I've downloaded. If I ever want to, I can take classes online through the programs that are available with my library card. I remember using card catalogues and they were cool, but they couldn't do all of that! 

The rest of my February book list is made possible by my library card, with the exception of the needlepoint book, which was a gift from a friend.

Falling Awake by Alice Oswald
I am not sure where I read about this poetry collection, but it sounded intriguing, so I found it at the library and requested it. The poems have largely been inspired by nature. I’m glad I came across the book!

Dead Men’s Morris by Gladys Mitchell
Last year, I came across a Mrs Bradley mystery in the ebook section of the library website and decided to give it a try. I vaguely remembered watching a show on PBS years ago, in which Diana Rigg played Mrs Bradley. Being unfamiliar with the books, I had no idea at the time how miscast she was in that role. I wasn’t in love with the episode I saw, so never watched again. There have been a few radio versions on BBC Radio 4 Extra that I listened to, and Mary Wimbush, the actor playing Mrs Bradley, was very different. Now that I’ve read some of the books, she seems far more suited to the character. In any case, when I read the ebook, I enjoyed it, so decided to read some more, starting at the beginning. I started requesting a few at a time from the library. I took a break after several of them, although I did read a Christmas themed ebook last autumn. I recently started requesting them again, and this is the first one that came in. It was not the next one on the list, but it really doesn’t matter much of they’re read out of order, so I went ahead and read it without waiting for the next two. This one turned out to take place during Christmas--I would have requested it a few months ago had I known that. Mrs Bradley goes to stay with a nephew for Christmas. He is a pig farmer. There are other guests there, both coming from afar and staying at the farm, local people coming for Christmas Day and Boxing Day, and possibly a ghost making an appearance. Of course, things work out in rather a different way than expected when one local gent takes a walk at midnight to look for the ghost and fails to return. The title comes from the Morris dancers and the festival in which they take part, some months after the Christmas mayhem, and which play a vital role in the story’s denouement.

Medieval Needlepoint by Candace Bahouth
This was a really interesting book, in which the author writes about her own artistic journey and inspirations, as well as her fascination with medieval imagery and symbolism and explanations of same. She includes photos of some of her needlepoint work that has been inspired by medieval imagery and charts and instructions to make some of them. There are some charts and portions of charts in here that I will use, but for cross-stitch instead of needlepoint. I enjoyed this book a lot--both the text and the photos--and expect I will get a lot more enjoyment from it as time goes on. It’s a keeper!

Death at the Opera by Gladys Mitchell
Another Mrs Bradley mystery. It struck me as I was reading that one reason these are interesting is that they are all written in a slightly different style. I am reading them mostly in order and noticing that Mrs Bradley’s ideas about psychology seem to evolve as the books progress. I don’t know about the history of psychology, so don’t know whether her evolving ideas mirror what was happening in the discipline in the real world.

A Spot of Folly by Ruth Rendell
I came across this in the e-audiobook section of the library website. It’s a posthumously published story collection. I usually like Rendell’s work well enough and I am a big short story fan, so I decided to give it a try. With audiobooks there is always the added issue of whether or not the reader annoys me in some way, so I was prepared to skip it of that was the case here. Happily, it wasn’t. There were several different readers and all were good, so I spent a few evenings happily listening and tatting. One story was very long and it was getting tedious, but then it finally ended. That was the only one that I felt was lacking. It was too long and in the end I felt that there wasn’t much point. One story is just a few lines long. The final story in the collection is chilling. It starts out on a jarring note, turns briefly into a happy annual family holiday on an island, and then slowly we understand that something is wrong--not with the family, but with the world out there beyond the island. I would have loved to read this story expanded into a novel. I’m glad I found this audiobook. It’s a good one.

 I hope you find some good stuff at your local library soon, too, whether you're searching in the middle of the day or at 3 am in your pjs--or maybe even using a card catalogue!

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