In an effort to decrease my rampant spending at Barnes and Noble I stopped by the local branch of the Minneapolis Public Library on Friday to get a library card. This was the first time that I went to the public library since I was a child, and things sure have changed. The old system of applying for a library card and waiting for it to be made has been replaced by an instantly ready card that you can use immediately for self-checkout. Yes, I said self-checkout. I was able to scan my card and books at a scanner similar to those used at the supermarket to read prices. And it gave me a paper receipt letting me know when the books were due back – no more little cards sitting in a pocket in the front of the book to track the due date. The biggest change for me was the ability to track and control my account online. If I need to renew I don’t even need to leave my house, I can just log on to the computer and do my renewal right there. I can also check online to see if the library has the book I need, no need to rummage through the dressers full of index cards trying to find the right book. How, well, modern!
It may seem obvious to you that the library would change with the times and take advantage of the new technology out there, but for some reason I expected it to be a relic of my past, left exactly the same as I remembered it when I was checking out books on horses and fantasy novels for young adults. There was something quaint about the old way that I expected, and inexplicably missed. But the books still smell a bit musty, and many of them still have those plastic dust cover protectors that give the books that certain sound when you open them that just screams “library book.” There are some things that never change, and I like it that way.