The Public Library: Perks and Pitfalls
I love me an overstuffed bookshelf but let’s face it, books are pricey (especially new ones) and storage space lacking. So, the library it is. Don’t get me wrong, I really love the library: its musty smell, its quietâ€”it’s a core-of-society kind of placeâ€”plus remember what a rite of passage it was to have your own card? Surely there are annoyances: the book you want isn’t there, the guy browsing nearby coughs a contagious-sounding wet one, and the old lady at the counter asks for a guardian signature on your new card (Yes, I’m over 15, I’m 24. It’s like the exit row aisle on the airplane. I don’t know why my age qualifies me to be helpful in case of an emergency, because when I honestly consider the possibility I must admit that if the plane starts to go down I’m probably gonna swallow a handful of Xanax and elbow my way out first).
Though my broke-ness brings me there, to me the library is a perfect version of what it is and I wouldn’t change a thing. But then something happened the other day. During my nightly ritual of reading myself to sleep, I turned the page of Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and out fell a pile of hair. Now, I don’t like stray hair: not on eyebrows, not in food, and not in my goddamn library book. This wasn’t an accidental hair mishap, like a shedded strand, a hairy lint ball, or even the most vile but still understandable: a stray pube stuck by static cling. No, this was a hostile hair attack, an assault on the purity and anonymity of taking out a library book. This was a handful of neatly, freshly cut blond hairâ€”a bang trimming, perhaps. This was a sick, twisted bookmark or practical joke.
I was wide awake within seconds, frantically wiping the hairs off my sheets onto my floor (I’d have to vacuum that shit later but at least I wouldn’t sleep on library stranger hair). I was disgusted, then pissed, then sad. We were supposed to work together, us broke library-card-wielders; we were supposed to return books on time, pay overdue fees, use bookmarks (not dog-ears), and we were absolutely, positively not supposed to leave bodily remnants for the next person who checks out the book. But it could be worse: my sister’s local LA library has a constant stream of public masturbators (â€œIn LA you can’t check books out for more than two weeks, but if you can’t whack off at home, all you need is a library cardâ€).
Want a FREE haircut instead of cutting your own into a library book (you know who you are)? Type â€œFREE haircutâ€ into Craigslist any day and you’ll find a plethora of junior stylists offering it up for FREE. Want to buy cheap books while still supporting the library? Check out your city’s library’s book sales. SF’s epic FREE 45th Annual Big Book Sale starts this Thursday (September 24th-27th)!