Why the library is a dangerous place for me, and why it’s essential in my life.

ed libraryCentral Lending Library, Edinburgh (image from Google Images)

The library is a central and extremely important part of my life. However, it’s also a really, really, REALLY dangerous place for me. Think I’m exaggerating? You’ve never seen me scrabble around my room at 4:30pm because I just remembered I have 5 library books due and the library closes at 5pm. And I can’t for the life of me find the books. And I know they’re around here somewhere…

See, the thing is that I lead a very chaotic, highly disorganised life. And that’s fine, it really is. Truly. I recommend it. I know where the important things are. I know what I have to do each day. It’s fine. Except when I suddenly remember something I was supposed to do and then panic because it’s at this crucial moment that important stuff goes walkabout. Like library books (and incidentally also my hairdryer and clean socks). So you can bet that I spend 10 minutes frantically trying to find these library books (which almost always end up being in a stack at the end of my bed – and for some reason I still look everywhere else first. I’m waiting for the day I look in that place first and the books just won’t be there. Typical). I then run up to the library and arrive, breathless, sweaty, almost at closing time and plow into the self check out/return machines, where I spend a further couple of minutes trying to work out if I’m dying or if that double-vision-and-heart-palpatations combo is normal. It’s insanely stressful. But here’s the thing. The library is so important to me. I mean, it’s FREE BOOKS guys! That’s the stuff my dreams are made of! I just wish I was better at it.

BUT! My shining saviour in some ways and dark demon of Hell in others made itself known to me a few months ago. As some of you may know, I live in Edinburgh. And Edinburgh has A LOT of libraries, although I’ve only been into Central. Edinburgh also has this beautiful little beast of an App (simply called ‘Edinburgh Libraries’) that lets you access your account and see which books you have out and when they’re due. This is so useful for checking when I wake up so that I don’t have emergency dashes to the library 5 mins before closing, but it has an even more useful use – IT LETS YOU RENEW YOUR BOOKS!! It means if a book is due and I either haven’t finished it or don’t have much time that day I can renew the book from my phone, without having to go NEAR the library. This app has been a godsend. Seriously. It’s the best thing I’ve ever discovered.

However – there’s one thing that makes it dangerous. You can also reserve books on it. Of course you can go into the library and reserve books, but I always limited that luxury for when I was going to the library anyway. By having the ability to reserve books on my phone, I’m effectively ensuring that I always have at least 10 books on the go. One problem with this – the limit for checking out books is 12 at a time. I usually have 8-10 out at any one time. I am also now reserving 4+ each week. And reserved books are only held at the library for 10 days before being sent back to whence they came. I now spend an extraordinary amount of time reading books and trying to remember which of my reserved books arrived at the library first and therefore which I need to check out when I return my finished ones and which I have to read first and which I need to renew…the list of library tasks goes on. I think the staff probably think I’m weird at best (and a complete loon at worst) for sitting next to the reserved books pick up shelves and muttering to myself “no no, I need this one today I think not that one. No I can take that one out tomorrow as long as I don’t leave THAT one longer than Friday” etc. Hmmmm.

But of course I love it. Reading is my lifeblood and I’ve taken every advantage of the fact that Edinburgh library doesn’t charge you to reserve books (where I used to live before uni you had to pay 50p per book you order). Even though I might have to cut down a little now that exams are coming up. Hopefully not too much though… after all, I have a beautifully disorganised system in place.

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