The Library is Free?!
Today I listened to this really funny episode of This American Life. It was an episode from 2005, I recently bought the iphone Application and you can listen to all the archives for free! The program was about “a little-studied phenomenon: children who get a mistaken idea in their heads about how something works or what something means, and then don’t figure out until well into adulthood that they were wrong.” I particularly enjoyed the story about a girl who never really learned that unicorns weren’t real. She recalls that in her mind unicorns were just as exotic as zebras roaming around some African savannah and really all they are is a horse with a horn- very believable, right? The best part about most of these stories is how they come to find out what they have been believing is false. Said unicorn believer is at a party with friends and she finds herself in a conversation about endangered species, she then asks “are unicorns endangered or extinct?” At first everyone laughs, and then there is a large gap of silence where she realizes for the first time that unicorns are indeed make believe. You can go HERE to listen to the program.
The first half of the program is riddled with these funny little stories, I highly recommend giving it a listen. Maybe it will do for you as it did for me, remind you of some similar embarrassing moment. I had one of these moments, although I am quite glad I wasn’t exactly an adult yet- because as you will see that would have been even more embarrassing, At least in this story I can chalk it all up to being a blonde and ditzy 16 year old… (but wait I wasn’t ditzy, was I?)
It all started when there was a new public library built in our suburb. The building was finished in 2000, but I venture to say it was about 2002 when I finally made a visit. I always knew what the library was- a place full of books, obviously, but the only library I had been in outside of our school’s was a really crummy old building that smelled like a mix of mold & moth balls, needless to say I had NO desire to go back. Well, no desire until this new sparkling building appeared. At this point in my life I had started to really love bookstores. My mom & I would just go to B&N and look through books and magazines for hours. I loved to grab several big coffee table wedding books and find a big comfy chair and sit and just enjoy. I guess I might have also thought that the library only contained boring books, purely academic and then the children’s section. Maybe you can start to see what’s about to happen here, but hold on it gets really good.
Imagine my surprise when I entered the brand new Hermitage branch of the Nashville Public Library. I was seriously astonished. First of all they had magazines, and not just any magazines, but the Holy Grail of magazines- VOGUE! And not only did they have the current month’s issue, they had the entire years. They even had big comfy chairs to sit in. The library had seriously gotten a make over from what I remembered. Next I started to walk through the stacks, again the vast variety of titles were just shocking! They had wedding books and cook books and all kinds of beautiful books.
What happens next is really where I should have stopped a moment and thought more clearly, oh but I didn’t. As I was taking it all in I started gathering a few titles that I wanted to check out. I remember thoroughly inspecting the Bobbie Brown makeup book front and back inside and out to try and find a price on it. The only price that was visible was the retail sale price and I was sure they weren’t “renting” them for that price. I then proceeded to the front desk. A nice librarian appeared and I immediately asked her how much it would cost to “rent” these books and where the prices were located on them. Now I’m sure she thought I was some kind of crazy because the look she gave me was one of sheer confusion and a little hint of disdain. I think she responded with something like “There is not price you just use your library card” well then the obvious follow-up question “ Well how much is a membership?” Again the look on this woman’s face was just obviously annoyed and she answered somewhat slowly “ It. Is. Free.” a very perplexed me responded “FREE?! Really it’s FREE??” (imagine a very high teenage voice sqeaking) flatly she responded “Yes”. “Well how do I get a library card?!” and I then proceeded to get my very own public library card.
As I was walking out of the library I pulled out my very clunky nokia with the pink polka dot face plate and called a friend “DID YOU KNOW that the library is FREE?! AND they even have all the magazines and comfy chair’s like Barnes & Noble!!” Incredible!
Now I know what your thinking, really could she not have known this? Well honestly I can say that it just hadn’t occurred to me. In my head I thought… well the school’s library is free because I go to school there, and the only other real encounter I had with the library was the bookmobile. Grandma used to take me to the bookmobile every week, it was really just such a novelty to be choosing books out of a big bus, but again I thought since she checked out that she was getting some type of bill sent to her house or that she was taking care of it just like she did everything else. It had never occurred to me that it was a FREE service! I mean can you imagine!?
In case you were worried that I haven’t received ample humiliation for this minor error in thought, be relieved because I assure you that every member of my family reminds me at every possible opportunity. So there you have it. A true Angela moment. I hope it at least made you smile 🙂
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