The library isn’t so scary after all

I’m not sure if it’s just because I am naturally shy or if perhaps I was subjected to some particularly stern librarians as a child (certainly not the school librarian at my elementary school, Mrs. Shramm, who reminded me of the title character in the 1982  HBO movie “The Electric Grandmother,” played by Maureen Stapleton), but I have long harbored a strong resistance to actually going to the library.

I am fortunate to live in the digital age, in which I can obtain most of the information I need for every day life and basic research from the comfort of my home computer. However, as we all know, the Internet has its limitations. I am told I should not believe everything I read online. Who knew? Therefore, from time to time, it is important to do *real* research in an *actual* library.

This past winter I screwed up my courage and finally got myself a library card (it is embarrassing how long it took me to do this) and have actually started checking out and returning books on a somewhat regular basis. It was a bit of a revelation to me that, aside from the pressure of returning a book by the due date, using the library is actually great when you are not sure if you want to commit to a book. If you don’t like it, it cost you nothing to read it and it doesn’t even take up space on your shelf!

Anyway, this morning I was faced with a research issue that Google just would not solve. So, I took a deep breath, found the phone number online and called a research librarian at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. I stammered a bit when asking my question, but the woman on the other end of the line was patient, cheerful, helpful and immensely knowledgeable. She didn’t make me feel the least bit stupid or out of line. (Here’s where the haunted memory of being chastised by a librarian comes to mind, though I’m not sure if that ever actually happened.)

I was so pleased with her help that I decided to “like” the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh on Facebook. I logged on post-haste to do so (because it had been at least 20 minutes since I had last checked my newsfeed), and in doing so I found a link to this fascinating blog, which is written by librarians who have some cool and quirky ideas.

Altogether, my encounter with the library was great, and that was just from the comfort of home. I have a book that is due back soon, so I will have to actually go back to the library. In person. No problem.

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Susan Jablow, Free-lance Writer

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