Benson Memorial Library, Libraries

Small Things

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It took about one year to fund and then a few weeks to put it all together, but we finally have a bench outside of our library. It may seem like a tiny thing to get really excited about, but you see it’s the tiny things that I think really mean something in public libraries these days.

I’ve talked about it before on this blog and the deeper I get in my mind with the idea that public libraries should ditch the hype, stop copying and pasting ideas from other libraries, and instead focus solely on your own community, the more I believe this is the only way forward.

The bench was made possible by very generous donations given by community members in memory of their loved ones in 2016. We decided to install this bench in the front yard as a spot where library visitors could relax, read a book, and enjoy our free public wi-fi (which is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year!) under the shade of one of our wonderful trees.

We may not be getting a fancy five star rating from a library related publication© or Boing Boing isn’t helping us go viral with our really fun library video, but dammit the dude sitting on the bench in this photo is outside, using the library wi-fi for free, and is enjoying a great spring day. Fuck everything else. This is what matters.

 

Misc.

Weeding my life

Weeding
The process of examining items in a library collection title by title to identify for permanent withdrawal those that meet pre-established weeding criteria, especially when space in the stacks is limited. Public libraries usually weed routinely on the basis of circulation. In academic libraries, weeding is done less frequently, usually only when the shelves become overcrowded, in anticipation of a move or an accreditation review, or when a significant change occurs in curriculum, such as the elimination of a major. Weeding should be undertaken judiciously because out of print titles can be difficult to replace. Compare with deselection. See also: exchange. Taken from http://lu.com/odlis/
Like any good librarian, I’m familiar with the concept of weeding. I follow all the rules in the definition above and add some of my own (bad cover art?  YOU’RE GONE!  Image means a lot to teens.)  What I didn’t think about during my library school days was just how much weeding would come in handy when it came to my own life.

Over the years, I have become a collector of old stuff.  Vinyl, toys from the 1980’s, and an odd assortment of books.  Wow, is that a He-Man puzzle for children that I’ll most likely never take out of the box?  I MUST HAVE IT….AND THEN PUT IT IN A STORAGE BOX THAT I WON’T GO THROUGH FOR A FEW YEARS. Yes, it sort of got that bad,

When my family moved to Portland, ME about 6 months ago, our  view of how to live changed.   My wife Haley and I stopped thinking about that dream farm in the middle of nowhere with lots of chickens running around and instead found ourselves quite fond of city living.  A co-op, Trader Joe’s, and Whole Foods in walking distance?  Awesome.  Only driving a car once a week.  Super awesome.  We started thinking about minimalist living.  My wife Haley did a lot of the research and kept me in the loop by sending me countless amounts of articles each day.  I appreciated every single one.  Slowly but surely, we began to pack up boxes destined for thrift stores, used book stores, and used media stores.  DVDs, CDs, VHS, books that we don’t read.  All gone.  The weeding process was simple: do we use it now or do we see ourselves using it in the future?  Our gut reaction was what we relied on, and often times it said toss it.    Our life feels a lot less cluttered.  We feel like we can breathe more and enjoy our home.  This is a good thing since winter is coming up and from what we’ve heard winter in Portland, ME is a good time to hibernate.

Going digital with a lot of media also helped.  My most prized personal possession, my music collection, is digitally stored in a number of places.  All 120 GB (estimated) are safe and sound.  Sure, the sound quality may not be as good digitally, but am I really going to care about it when I’m listening to the second album by The Darkness? (which is fantastic by the way)  Not really .   I did keep a lot of my more prized music finds (Pet Sounds Box Set, The Beatles in Mono Box Set, etc).  A lot of the books I’ve read were things I couldn’t see myself reading again or something that I could easily get from a library so, why not get rid of those?  Someone else is waiting to discover them in a used book store.

This type of thinking has also bled into how we look at our bills.  Do we really need to pay $247/month for a car, $80/month for car insurance, and all the other miscellaneous things (gas, tires, repair, ME state excise tax) when we walk mostly everywhere and there’s public transportation right outside our apartment? .  Do we really need very basic cable? $13/month).  It also means cutting back on these types of things.  Cable?  Gone.  Why not watch whatever is free online?  We already pay $45 for internet (something we decided that was a must have for us) and when we have TV we can never pick what to watch.  Let the internet decide for us.  Who really cares.  Maybe we’ll pick up something that we wouldn’t usually go for.  I must add that we do subscribe to Netflix at $10/month.  Like the internet, that was a tough one to back out of.  Combining the powers of Netflix instant streaming, wireless internet, and our Nintendo Wii, we have more than enough to watch at anytime.

The car has been the hardest thing to give up.  It’s really nice to have the ability to just get up and drive somewhere whenever we want (a spur of the moment trip to somewhere along the coast of Maine?  A much needed dose of Taco Bell for me? NO PROBLEM!).  However, I’m still learning how to think past that.  Planning out a trip and renting/borrowing a car is, in the long run, an idea that makes more sense to me.  You get a lot more out of planned trips.  You research what you want to do.  You do it.  You come home satisfied.  However, I’m not 100% there.  There’s still about 15% of me that enjoys the randomness that a car allows you to have.  I’m just going to have to give it time.