I live in an area where the property taxes are just crazy high. However, there are perks. One, our school district is awesome. Two, our library is amazing.
The children’s section is just really cool. There are about, as far as I can count, like six or seven children’s librarians, and they are all both wicked cool and enthusiastic about being librarians, and they really know their stuff. I can ask them about some random book from a piece of the plot I remembered from my childhood and they can tell me the book off the top of their head, the author, and where to find it. In the half-dozen similar questions I’ve asked, I’ve not once had them reference a computer to tell me the answer.
The place in general is pretty big for being one of two libraries in a town of about 50,000 people. In gearing up for planning, digging, and planting my veggie garden, combined with a bit of winter blahs, I read about eight different veggie gardening books and barely put a dent into the section. I wish their photography section had a bit more of a selection, especially in the how-to area, and especially given the radical transformation from film to digital that has happened fairly recently. I think I’ll mention that to someone.
They have a completely kick-ass online presence. Not only can you search and reserve books and A/V stuff through their website, you can also download PDF versions of a ton of books (I’m currently reading Darkly Dreaming Dexter – upon which the series “Dexter” is based – this way) — basically turning my laptop into a slightly less portable Kindle, and for a lot less coin, given when I’m done reading my laptop is still a laptop and a Kindle is a useless piece of electronics. They even audiobooks to load to your iPod (or other mp3 player). Of course, the PDF books and audiobooks are no extra charge, all part of the services you get when you sign up for a library card. On the website, you can see what you have checked out online, and renew it if the need arises (like it’s 10 minutes before closing time on the day your stuff was due back). They even send out email reminders a couple days before something’s due to give you a heads-up, which has saved my butt a number of times.
The totally neatest part about the library, though, is the A/V department. Not only do they have a great selection of movies you can borrow on DVD, but they’ve already amassed a decent Blu-ray selection (and being the recent recipients of a Blu-ray player for Christmas, we are all a-tizzy about borrowing Blu-rays). They have a huge selection of kids’ DVDs, so the kids get new movies (one apiece) every week. They even have a pretty good variety of video games, so I’ve sampled a few different Wii games that way. I really don’t understand how Blockbuster stays in business with this library around. The library’s even open until 9:00 most days of the week, and they actually have Sunday hours, too, when it’s not summertime.
The library still doesn’t totally assuage the pain of a $1,200 a month tax bill, but it is a spoonful of sugar.
And it definitely brings up a question — is my library that far ahead of the game? I want to think so — the library in our own town in New Jersey didn’t have nearly the same level of resources. How does your library compare? And if you don’t know…. you should find out. 😉