Thursday, July 2, 2015

Four-Day Fantasy Bliss

Today, I volunteered at the Green Valley Library, an unusual day for me to do it, because the library's closed tomorrow, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. It's always closed Sunday and Monday because that's how it's been ever since I got here, and probably even before, during the economic crash which caused two branches to be closed (the Malcolm branch and the Galleria branch, inside the Galleria at Sunset mall), and then hours were scaled back. More recently, albeit many, many months ago, hours were taken from the Green Valley and Gibson branches in order to open the Paseo Verde branch, the flagship branch, on Mondays. So instead of the Green Valley Library opening at 9:30 a.m., it opens at 10. There were other changes in the operating hours, but I've long forgotten what they were.

Normally, I volunteer on Saturdays, but that was impossible this week. And yet, I wish I could. I wish I had keys to the library, access to the alarm codes so I could spend the 4th of July weekend there. The library would be entirely empty and only for me. I would probably have breakfast on the way there, and bring lunch with me. Of course, I could spend all day and all through the night in the Green Valley Library, but I do have family in humans and dogs and birds alike, so I couldn't be away for that long. I'd let some time pass before returning, to build up the anticipation again.

I'd walk in through the back door, put my stuff down behind the circulation counter, and shelve whatever still needs to be shelved, any holds that might be left on that cart and certainly books sitting on the carts nearest the fiction side of the library. That would take all of 20 minutes to a half hour, depending on the workload.

I wouldn't turn on any of the computers. That wouldn't make any sense to me, because I'd be there for the library, not for the accompanying technology. I love the DVD section, the nonfiction DVDs on one side and the movies and TV shows on the other, and of course the audiobooks, but I would only want the books, and enough light in which to read whatever I'd want, whatever I could find. It would be the perfect setting in which to read Country, Danielle Steel's latest novel, which I only want to read because part of it takes place at the Wynn here in Las Vegas, and I want to see how she portrayed it (It has absolutely NOTHING to do with my mom being a huge Danielle Steel fan when I was growing up, and me reading a good number of her novels in turn, out of curiosity). But on the Claim Jumper shelves, which has copies of books that have a long number of holds, these copies available only at this particular library, there's no copy of Country. Disappointing, but I move on.

There's a shiny, squashy brown leather armchair in front of the new books for children, next to the separate children's area. I think I'd spend most of my hours there, as it's very close to the reading recliner I have at home. But most important to me is getting to know the collections completely, all the books I probably have missed while restocking the various displays in the library as a volunteer, all the DVD titles I haven't seen yet that could be intriguing for some other time, and knowing all the picture books there truly are in this library, because those shelves are packed tightly There are some books that when you pull them out, two try to come out with them, either on one side or on opposite sides.

I'm not sure what books I would want to read. Part of me would just want to read in the spur of the moment, and another part of me wonders what Nero Wolfe mystery novels they have that I might have missed. There was an omnibus I had read, but I think that's the only major one there. And yet, there are also the Robert Goldsborough continuations, of which the library has a few. Perhaps it would be time to try them again. But there's also presidential history, and one or two movie books I haven't gotten to yet, and Bob Stanley's history of pop music ("Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!: The Story of Pop Music from Bill Haley to Beyonce") and....and.....and.....

Then there's also the thought of what books would be in the spirit of spending four days alone in this library, books to represent in print the blissful peace I'd feel, great comfort, quiet eagerness, amazement at how many books there actually are when you have them all to yourself. I'm sure the books and other materials would want some rest during these four days, time to themselves, but I think a caretaker like me would not be a bother. Not every book gets attention when patrons are browsing. I would do my very best to give each one attention, even if it's only in lingering passing, to at least notice it. Overall, they make up a relatively hefty collection, but in getting specific with them, they're merely themselves, one after the other, each one with different stories to try, and ideas to explore. For example, I have my religion. It's books and libraries. But I'd want to see exactly how many books there are about Buddhism in the library, which I've been curious about for anthropological reasons. Also because there are times when I do feel monkish, when I would love to have a library as a monastery. I did that once, at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences' Margaret Herrick Library in Beverly Hills, when I was doing research for a book that may never happen. It truly is an American monastery and heaven for a movie buff like me. I would want to see if I could capture that same monastic feeling in a library that truly serves a whole community, not just a piece of one. I think I could. Sadly, I can't live in a library (although my room sometimes come close), so this would be the next best thing.

(Speaking of that, I can now reveal this: Two weeks ago, I was hired to be the new library aide at Cox Elementary, which is in the general vicinity of my neighborhood and is very much the next best thing. I finally get to do what I want to do! I hope that this will lead to doing even more of what I want to do, which is simply to contribute everything I can give to libraries through my work for them. I should think a year and a half of volunteering at the Green Valley Library while waiting on a position there (the part-time shelver position would be enormously convenient because it would boost me to nearly 40 hours a week), and the year and a half I spent as a substitute everything in the school district, including a great many stints as a substitute library aide show that already. My new job will show it even more.)

In reality, I will never be able to get into the Green Valley Library during this July 4th weekend. My imagination will do it for me throughout the days.