I’ve been going to the Chicago Public Library since I was six. I’m not sure why, but I always loved being surrounded by all those books. For a while there, I used to hang out at the library with my best friend Patrick. We would sit there reading joke books and asking each other riddles. We had a lot of fun while trying not to laugh too loudly.
Then, something terrible happened to the libraries. There was an enormous change of attitude toward the patrons by the librarians. None seemed too interested in helping us, the readers, in the 1970s. That was about the time that I started buying books instead of borrowing them from the library. I loved owning my own books. Of course, that was a time when I actually had time to go back to my books to reread them.
In the 1980s, the library began to computerize its tracking system. The computers were always down and they had to resort to the old paper system whenever I checked out a book. Then, lo and behold, some reporter discovered that the City of Chicago awarded the computer contract through patronage. That’s the Chicago Way! And no one was really shocked. I hated going to the library because the librarians stared daggers at you if you asked for help to find a book or if you wanted to check it out. And just forget about even trying to get a book delivered from another branch. I just stopped going to the library.
The last few years, however, our library system has been thoroughly modernized. I think it started improving when Bill Gates donated Microsoft software to the library. Lately, I’ve been patronizing the library regularly. When I got divorced and sold our house, I had to move to a smaller house. So, I had to get rid of two-thirds of the books that I had accumulated over the years. Now, I borrow books instead of buying them. And this is where the library comes in. The library in the picture above is within walking distance of my house. I don’t even have to go to the library to order the books. The computer system works perfectly now. I look up whatever book I want and if the library system owns it, I can get it delivered to my library where they will hold it for a week. I’m just amazed by how efficiently the library works now!