I went to the public library on Monday, for the first time in a long while. I have to say, the San Diego library system is kind of pathetic. Or maybe I just lived near an exceptionally awesome library growing up in Colorado. But more likely the former. Not that it’s entirely the fault of the San Diego library system. Let’s do a little math, shall we:

less money = less hours + less books

While I was clicking around in the library catalogue yesterday, I couldn’t help, but feel that most of the books I wanted to read just weren’t available. And they weren’t even obscure books either. I couldn’t find a copy of A Wrinkle in Time. I understand it was probably just checked out. But seriously, that book is older than dirt. It’s not like there’s an extensive waiting list for it. Furthermore, it’s a children’s classic (which I have still never read). I can’t believe they only have one copy.

I know I could just request the book from another branch, but the branch I was at doesn’t even have some of the books in its own collection. Which I also find depressing.




I left with five books, but not one of them was what I originally set out to find. There weren’t any copies available of Looking for Alaska or An Abundance of Katherines by John Green nor the novel Train Dreams by Denis Johnson, a novella that has garnered a lot of attention. I was also looking for Veronica Roth’s new book, Insurgent.

Every time I go in the library, I leave with a general sense of dissatisfaction. With all the hundreds of books being published each year, only a very small amount of them go on to live a second life in the library. I was sitting and looking at the books and thinking that while it looks like they have a lot of books, they really don’t. Those shelves contain selections of every book that has ever been. Which is really not a great thing to have laid before you as an aspiring author. So many books, but so many that never even get filtered into the library. What happens to all the rest of the books? Once their print run is extinguished in bookstores, is that just it?

Sadly, I think it is.

Luckily, there is Amazon.

I love Amazon. I just don’t want to accept that one of my favorite childhood haunts is becoming obsolete.

Have you noticed similar things at your library? Less money, less hours, less books, less satisfaction?

8 Comments on “Why I Find the Library Depressing

  1. It makes me so sad that you find the library depressing 😦 Of course I enjoy a trip to Barnes & Noble more than a trip to my local library, but I love my library too and almost all the books I read are borrowed from it.

    I will say though- I almost never walk into the library, pick a book off the shelves, and check out. If I want a specific book (and it’s not a classic), I have to request it. It’s almost never AT my library branch when I want it. Either my branch’s book is checked out or it’s at another branch. With all the branches in the district though, I never have to wait more than a week for a book unless it’s something big (“The Casual Vacancy”) or the movie adaptation is out/coming-out-soon (I’m sure “Perks of Being a Wallflower” has a ton of requests right now).

    • Yea…I think I got spoiled by a really nice library when I was a kid, which is funny because I lived in a suburb, not even a real library…and then having a huge research library at school…all the books ever. I think I’m mostly just sad that you can see the tole of the economy in the library…my local library isn’t open on the weekends and just in the afternoon during the week…i just want the library to be a magical place stuffed and stuffed with books…i’ll still go to the library and i’ll probably request stuff, i just suck at actually going to pick things up (case in point: apparently i’ve had something at the post office for me for the last week)

  2. I honestly haven’t walked into a library since I was in middle school. When I need a book, I usually go to the bookstore or most often order it through Amazon. It just seems like a lot less hassle than going back and forth to the library. Especially due to the limited selection. But this may be a cause and effect thing happening, where Amazon popularity has caused more people to rely on it as a major book supplier, and therefore libraries have suffered because people aren’t willing to get off their hineys to get a book. I wish there were more lucrative libraries around for sure, but with the price of gas and the comfort of getting books delivered to your front porch, I’m frankly surprised libraries are still kicking.

  3. What’s a “library”? Is it something to do wit astrology? Because, I gots to tell you, that’s a lot of bunk.

    . . . google search . . . Ah! Yeah, we have them here as well.

    Seriously, I don’t visit them often, but coincidentally I was just there. While on the cruise I read “Old Man’s War” and “The Ghost Brigades” by John Scalzi. I was interested enough to check out “The Last Colony” out of the library (they are $8/e-book at Amazon).

    But I agree . . . the selections are limited, although I read all 13 of the Dresden books as e-rentals from the library. I really appreciated the large libraries I frequented in Chicago and while in college, but these small branches leave a lot to be desired.

  4. I really like my library system. I do. It’s very well organized and they have an online service that doesn’t just let you reserve books from other libraries in the county but shows how many copies of a book are in the county system, what library they belong to, when a book (or any other item) is due and how many people are on the waiting list before you.

    That being said, I have been surprised more than once how difficult it is to get one’s hands on a classic! I finally got round to reading Great Expectations last summer– or at least, I started to in July. But they only had three copies in the entire county system and I’m a slow reader so I kept having to return it, and reserve it again, and wait, and read some more, then return it, reserve it again, wait some more… BLARGH, I say!

    Same with a Wrinkle in Time. Come ON, libraries!

  5. I can’t say I’ve noticed, as it’s been several years since I went to a Library… But I will say I’m not surprised… The whole Book Industry has changed so much, what with Digital Media and all..


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