The thing is, I've got this weird habit. Well, at least I think it's weird. What is it? Well, even though I work in a library that is part of a consortium with a lot of public libraries and I could have pretty much any book delivered to me here at work, I still go to the public library in person three or four times every month.
Admittedly, this habit started back at my last job when some student workers were nosy about and would comment upon what I was reading, but that's not a concern anymore. It's not even like I can excuse it by saying the public library is on my way home, because it's not. It's actually downtown in one of the very few places in this city that has bad traffic semi-regularly. It might seem even weirder when I admit that I have books delivered to the public library but return them at the library where I work. (Isn't that a lovely thing, by the way? So convenient.) I don't have an excuse for this behavior.
Nevertheless, as weird and sometimes inconvenient as it might be, I recommend every librarian do the same. You see, I get a lot out of it:
- Browsing & Serendipity. Since we have a much smaller budget than the public library, we can't order the breadth of materials that they can. I get to look around and browse and stumble upon things in a way I could never do in my own. And I'm not just talking fluffy happy abstractions here... This is how I found the "Hildafolk" graphic novel series, and how I learned that there are Torchwood audio books.
- Ideas. I've never been quiet about how I co-opt/lift/remix ideas I get from other libraries. For example, I especially like the positively worded signs at my local public library and plan to use some of their phrasing. There is so much to be gained from cross-pollination.
- Perspective. My current library is at a college that recruits students heavily from the local area, so looking at what our public library does gives me an idea of what incoming freshmen have experienced. It helps me tailor our programs and outreach. (As a friend of mine put it, "it all comes back to libraries and communities and the interaction between them.")
Like I said, I recommend this. I recommend it to everybody who works in libraries, even if you're not a fellow (or aspiring) academic librarian. I'm not sure how I'd go about having this same experience if I worked in a public library, but I know lots of special and college/university libraries are open to the public. However, for the rest of you, if you can find the time to visit the public library where you live, I do recommend it. Maybe you won't be going in to pick up a new audio book for your commute every other week the way I am, but I'm sure you can find a reason to go.
Anybody else out there have this same habit? What do you get out of it? Why do you go to the public library instead of having things delivered to you at work?