Library. Revisited.

April 23, 2009



With this oh-so enjoyable LSAT business on my agenda, I find myself at the public library about three days a week, trying to train my inherently illogical brain in the fine art of logic. (If A—>B, and B—>C, then C—>B. No wait, that can’t be right.) 

It comes as no surprise that I associate libraries with a certain sense of nostalgia. I have fond memories of my undergraduate days buried inside of UC Berkeley’s main stacks, where my masochistic yet focused and productive all-nighters brought out to bring out the best of work ethic.  

And yet, as I have realized in the past few weeks, public libraries don’t really work in the same manner.

Whenever I enter a public library, I frequently end up asking myself the same basic questions: Does anyone else think the Dewey decimal system is rather inefficient?  Why is that man shaving in the bathroom? Do they just throwaway the old card catalogs or are they stored in the basement in case a virus wipes out all of the computers?  Oh, and I don’t really get the whole sexy-librarian fetish. Something about being shushed just seems like a condescending turnoff.

Particularly in the midst of America’s favorite recession, public libraries across the country have become a safe haven for the young and recently unemployed: kill a few hours, read a book, apply for a job or two, people watch, or, as I seem to be doing at the moment, try to figure out if the correct answer to standardized test question happens to be A, B, C, D, or E.

Keep in mind that in my specific case, we are dealing with Los Angeles, a city that, with the exception of a few scattered parks and beaches, lacks a coherent semblance of public space. And the last time I checked, no one was really hanging out at City Hall, so I guess by default, public libraries in Los Angeles have become a hot-spot of sorts. 

My local library has transformed itself into the (very) frugal-hipster’s alternative to the coffee shop. (Which makes sense to a certain extent when you take into account the fact that at libraries you are not forced to shell out $3.50 for that latte and endure unbearable sounds of the barista’s I-Pod.) In fact, this particular biblioteca seems to have a surplus of aspiring screenwriters, cool-than-thou-art graphic designers, unemployed academics, and painters, painting pictures with paint…. and a paintbrush. 

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Durer's Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Definitely a favorite of mine.

Durer's Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Definitely a favorite of mine.

Like most cautious folks, I have a tendency to pre-plan; call it a chronic fear of the unexpected. Generally speaking, this means checking the weather before I go out for a bike ride or ordering movie tickets online to guarantee a seat for myself. And more often than not, I prepare talking points for social interactions, which might surprise those of you who assumed that this wit and charm was a natural god given talent. It is safe to say that spontaneity is not my strong suit.

In many ways, this so-called devotion to readiness explains my obsession with the apocalypse (the end of the civilization) and the post-apocalypse (the world itself following culmination of civilization).

The truth is, I spend an unhealthy amount of time thinking about the end of civilization. This is not to suggest that I am looking forward to it. For the most part, I like the current state of civilization. I can’t imagine another world where you would never have to pay a $523.23 fine to the public library and still get to check out an unlimited amount of books.

But like I said, I am pre-planner and have a tendency to prepare for the worst. I don’t want to end up in some underground hell-hole with a tuna fish void are killed and I forget to pack an adequate supply of BumbleBee beforehand.

Despite these worries, I don’t actually spend my free time imagining doomsday scenarios. That’s just not my style because I don’t really have a hyper-imaginative mindset. I didn’t spend my childhood creating fictitious worlds and alternative universes.

Instead of coming up with such situations, I just turn to the experts. If a movie, book, song, graphic novel, painting, or even a vaudeville show has anything to do with the apocalypse or post-apocalypse, I am game. Read the rest of this entry »