Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Quest for "Fire"

Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins, came out last week; it's the sequel to The Hunger Games, which was an action-packed YA read from last year. The waiting list is outrageous--25 people waiting for five copies at the BPL (three of which are on order, rather than available), something like 215 waiting for 40 copies in the Minuteman system. So I developed a little quest for myself.

See, a few branches will have "local request only" copies, intended for browsers, so that we tricky reserve people don't suck up all the copies for the first six months. Chelsea public library had a copy like that, so last week Adam and I set out to find Chelsea public library.

I've been to the neighborhood two or three times--driving a friend to the garage that was fixing her car, picking up a piece of furniture from Craig's List. It's a little convoluted--a lot of three way intersections at weird angles with one way streets and no signage. But it's very downtown, so no one's driving too fast, so you can creep along and figure things out.

My main problem, it turned out, was that the library doesn't have their own website. Their info is on the City of Chelsea website. Because of that, Google coughed up the wrong address for me, and somehow I ended up at City Hall instead of the library. I headed home in frustration, only to realize that the library is across the street from City Hall, and if I'd turned my head thirty degrees to the right, I'd have found it.

A week later, armed with better information, we headed back. Found the library, ended up a mile and three neighborhoods away due to one way streets and poor parking options, but we managed to circle back around and find a spot by cutting across three lanes of traffic. Sweet.

The library itself is a creaky old building, tiny and very, VERY weirdly organized. YA is a shelf in the "Family Room," which is also where nonfiction is. Fiction and nonfiction are either misunderstood or (I like to think) simply mislabeled. Fiction has its own room, and then there's something that's either a media room or else a staff room; hard to tell.

The personnel were attentive, but strange. The first lady seemed to be having a different conversation than I was, albeit on the same subject. I would say something like, "Well, there's her other book, but I don't see the one I want," and she'd say, "Oh, you found it?" Or I'd say, "Well, here are the C authors," and she'd promptly jump a few feet down to the G's. Or I'd say, "Is there a computer I could use to check the catalog?" and she'd say, "Maybe you should check the catalog." It was kind of surreal.

Then the librarian at the counter seemed intent on figuring out whether they had bought the book (looking through book receipts) in spite of the fact that it was in the catalog. Finally we just established that the book had been checked out, the catalog was wrong, oh well, and I went home, escaping with my sanity and a handful of books that the Disney people made movies out of in the '70s (Escape to Witch Mountain, Polyanna).

I'm on the waitlist, but the Central Square branch of the Cambridge library has a browsing copy, and Adam has only been to 8 libraries. Our goal was 10 by his first birthday--Central Square it is!


Brenda Pike said...

Can I come with you? It's the closest library to our house, but I've only gone there to pick up interlibrary loans.

JMLC said...

So jealous! I'm waiting for a copy from our library...

Anonymous said...

This book was great. I am enjoying a lot of ya stuff recently.

I read EVERYTHING SUCKS by Hannah Freidman and loved it so much I bought copies for both of my nieces the day after I finished it. Really enjoying your reviews!