We love libraries. Every place we move we get ourselves registered with the library and obtain our cards. Claude is very proud of his library card collection. So naturally we obtained our borrowing privileges almost immediately upon arriving in Galway, when our address was so new that we didn’t even have a piece of mail to prove our residency. The librarian was kind enough to go ahead and give us our cards – although I noted at the time that she seemed a bit surly.
Well, that has not changed. It has come to the point where I dread having to interact with the librarians at the City branch because they are all so damned .. surly! I’ve never met crankier librarians than these people. Mind you, the children’s library librarians are nice ladies and always pleasant. The librarians at the Westside branch are all happy and helpful. But those City branch folks are something else.
Other frustrations about the Galway library system include the fact that their online catalogue is notoriously incorrect; their shelving system is barely alphabetical – no, seriously, if the author’s name starts with W (for example) then you have to scan through every single book on the W shelf to find your book – and they don’t even match up duplicate titles by the same author; most of the time even when the catalogue says it’s in the fiction section it ends up being in another section altogether; and the sections are so poorly labeled that it’s almost impossible to find what you’re looking for.
Of course, the easiest branch for me to get to is the City branch. I could ride the bus to Westside but it only shows up every 45 minutes and it’s been pretty darn cold out these last couple of weeks, too cold to stand around waiting for the bus while trying to do the time calculation in my head.
Today’s adventure had me trying to find “The Portrait of Dorian Gray” by Oscar Wilde. I’ve recently read a biography of the entire Wilde family and have wanted to read this novel for quite some time. After scanning the W shelf twice and not finding it, I screwed my courage to the sticking place and ventured to the front desk to ask. The cranky lady behind the desk starts tippy-tapping her keyboard and concludes that I’ll probably need to request the book. (Note: Previous experience has shown that any requests made through the library system go completely unheeded and are not acted upon.) I told her I had found it in the online catalogue this morning under “Dorian Gray” and that it was listed as being on the W shelf in fiction. At this point the other librarian pipes up and says, “Maybe it’s in Classics.” He scoots off and the librarian I’m working with continues her tippy-tapping at the keyboard. Seconds later the other librarian comes back with a copy of the book in his hand – at which point I fight desperately the instinct to berate them about their online catalogue and control of their inventory. Instead I thanked them, she checked me out, I left at least enriched with what I had come for.
These experiences have done nothing to put me off libraries. But there is something inherently wrong about crabby librarians!