I fell in love with public library system sometime after the card catalog gave way to the searchable electronic database. Like most people, I was drawn to the library because of its boundless supply of books and because it’s free, but my feelings for the library grew after I discovered the joy of ordering books online.
Not included the main library, there are 27 branches in San Francisco. If you live near a small, understocked branch, you can borrow books from any other location. No surprise. But did you know that you can have books delivered to the branch of your choice? So, let’s say you’re interested in Knitting lingerie style; more than 30 basic and lingerie-inspired designs. You go to sfpl.org, do a search, find the book, enter your library card and PIN number, and then hit the “request” button.
Ordering books is like using Netflix, except it’s free. Sure, there are some downsides, like the five blocks or so you will need to walk to the closest library to pick up the book. But gone are the days of perusing the aisles, wondering whether it’s 303.457ab B303.475a. You just walk directly up to the counter, give your name, and you’ll have your books before the smell of homeless shelter gets on your clothes.
For a steady stream of reading material, I recommend developing a queue of requested books. Memorize your library card number; it’s way cheaper than memorizing your credit card number. Every time a friend mentions a “must read” book, or you stumble upon a good book review, put in a request. Even if the book is a best seller with “97 holds on the first 47 returned copies,” one day when you’re least expecting it, you’ll get a notice in your email inbox. Lo and behold, your best seller is close by, waiting for you.
The library isn’t perfect and if hardcover books are dealbreakers, then you may not find the true love I speak of. I write this post having just come from the Eureka Valley Bookmobile, a bus that sits outside my local branch for a few hours a week, providing limited services while the library undergoes extensive renovations. I can’t say visiting a bus provides the same experience as a brick and mortar library, but it really didn’t matter when I grabbed my bundle of reserved books. My only hope is that someday the bookmobile will deliver.