Thursday, July 8, 2010

Nickel and dimed!

Nickel and dimed! is the first in an erratic and sporadic series of posts in a malaysian abroad themed You're Not In Chicago Anymore!

This is a common habit of mine: making the false assumption that that how something works in one place is how that same something works everywhere else in the US. I'll cover recycling next time. Today I'd like to whine about public libraries.

First, I have to declare that I love to read. While 2010 is a slow year for me, in 2006 I read 84 books; in 2008 I went through 49; who knows what my lifetime tally is like! I love discovering new authors, fresh voices, different worlds, thought-provoking concepts.

Second, you might know that I am loathe to discard any book that has come into my possession, unless it was a particularly ungripping tome. In fact, of all the stuff of mine that's still in storage in Malaysia waiting to be shipped to the US one day, I would say perhaps 80% of it all is books. And that's after I hardened my heart and drastically vetted through them, saving only those very dear to me. I'd amassed quite a large number of books because it was so much more practical to buy rather than borrow back in Malaysia.

Third, my hubby is just like me... perhaps even worse in terms of his packrattishness (yes, I just made that up), so our apartment already has more than enough books in boxes that need a few more rounds of purging.

As such, we simply will not buy a book unless deemed necessary: the entire Dark Tower series, for example; hubby's working on Frank Herbert's Dune spin-offs by the son; I'm working on Isobelle Carmody's Obernewtyn, Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden, George R R Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series. The only reason I've not bought Patrick Rothfuss' The Name of the Wind is that I want to buy the complete set in one go - so maybe in 2015? LoL!!


Where was I? Oh yes: we cannot and will not buy books unless utterly necessary. Therefore, the local public libraries provide the important service of allowing me to read to my heart's content, without breaking the bank or adding to the clutter.

Here starts the whine.....

Back in Chicago, I enjoyed a three week lending period. Overdue fines were 10 cents (later doubled to 20 cents) a day. My neighborhood library was open 6 days a week, and the main library was open every day, from early morning till late night. Best of all, items that were in the overnight return bins at the start of the day were considered to have been returned the day before.

Then we moved to Springfield IL, where its public library has a mere two week lending period, and overdue fines are 25 cents a day. In terms of operating hours, the two satellite branches were open twice a week but are now closed due to financial difficulties, while the main (and only) library is open daily but with much shorter hours than expected. Worst of all, the 'bonus' overnight return allowance doesn't exist.

I really feel I'm being both shortchanged *and* nickel and dimed here in Springfield IL.


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