By: Revanche

(re)Discovering the Peninsula Library System

March 11, 2013

I’m a total local library fan from way back. I loved the smell of books, I loved the stacks, I loved the nearly-audible hush when you walked in the sliding doors. The absence of sound creating an echo. It was so Zen.

Then they started letting kids talk, and bring food and drink. Sacrilege!

My neglect of our local one here up North can only be explained by my ridiculously hermity nature. There’s one only a mile down the road and in these three (or so) years, I’ve been there once.  (It was closed.)

I blame the really strange business hours. There are a couple days when they open midmorning and stay open until the evening. There’s a couple days (not consecutively) when they open midmorning and close earlyish. There’s a day where they open late and close early. Also a day when they open late and close late.

This is too complicated for my easily combobulated brain – hard enough to recall which day of the week it is, they’ve gone and given it a good scramble for good measure!

Judging by the crowd of people milling around or sitting in their parked cars, when I dropped in for a quick peer-around on my way home from a brunch, this schedule situation is not just a problem for me. We all looked sort of stupid, I guess, but it was still entertaining to watch a man walk through the crowd, bang into the still-locked door with the schedule clearly printed on it and turn to ask the rest of us: “What? Closed? When does it open?”


Like the vast SF Library system, the Peninsula Library System has 35 affiliated branches. (I thought it was nine.)

We’ve been to one of the more southerly branches and checked out audiobooks before, but I found their actual book collections to be somewhat lacking.

This branch was small – a single room with medium sized nooks for various sections: Children’s books, “Teen” books (isn’t that supposed to be Young Adult?), a coffee corner, and a rather large selection of DVDs and Fiction/NonFiction. Not definitively large, unfortunately.

The fiction section only housed 1 John Scalzi, 1 Elizabeth Ann Scarborough (I will not be judging her books by her website), and 2 Terry Pratchetts. That was disappointing. I didn’t have time to search further, though on my way up and down the aisles I saw two shelves’ worth of Mercedes Lackey and G.R.R.M.’s A Dance with Dragons which I will be back for.

One hopes that Patrick Rothfuss is represented somewhere in there as well because I love both him and his writing but let’s be honest, I’m quite likely to purchase the third book in his series because I will be rereading it to bits.  Return? NO.

This is, by the way, how I know I’m “rich”. There was no money to buy books until college, and then it was only if I had earned enough awards from my credit card spending on essentials. Discover’s $25 worth of points translating to $40 of Borders or other bookstore money was a bookworm-saver.  17-18 years of, (ok, 16 years because I didn’t start reading until I was 2 according to the parents) of borrowing books I couldn’t keep and cherish. Now? It’s an option. I AM RICH I TELL YOU.


Right, so the book selection is light, but there are definitely books to read. And dope that I am, I didn’t realize that putting a “hold” on any item in the online catalog is how you request books from other branches to be delivered to your branch.  It costs 75 cents per item but that’s still cheaper than driving to some of the further out branches. That’s a reminder, btw, to my cheap arse that less than a dollar to borrow a book is not a bank breaker. I’m so conditioned to think of the library as the place you only pay when you did wrong (late fees and lost books augh!) so a voluntary fee seems weird.

Their new checkout machine so I don’t have to talk to humans? Also amazing!  You just stack between 1-3 books on the thingie and it scans all of them. You don’t insert them one by one, lining up the barcodes anymore! I assume it’s magic. This is my excuse for the crazy face I was making at the machine when it all went down.

And! You have the option of printing the receipt for the books or emailing them. When did the library get this crazy progressive technology? (also, could we now spend money on great books please?)

Of course I didn’t use the email function. The receipt is my bookmark and physical reminder of when the books have to go back.

Other things: they hold educational sessions for teens (I think? Teens come in that hulking size, right?) to teach them how to use the library. The librarians sounded pretty helpful to the people who were talking to them. I just assume, anyway, the library visit is, for me, a solitary, almost reverential thing and talking is not part of the game.

Must say, though, their instructions for managing e-books, online or the paper printouts they provide at the more posh branch are pretty crap. They honestly didn’t make any sense and the website had no clear information about the rules around checking out ebooks. One section suggested that ebooks could only be reserved for 24 hour checkouts!  In reality the checkout period can be 7, 14, or 21 days. It’s just also unclear what those timeframes apply to.

Also, it always puts me in the happy creative mood even if I don’t have a creative atom in my body. so we’ll end with this Ira Glass piece:

11 Responses to “(re)Discovering the Peninsula Library System”

  1. Grace says:

    Are you sure you have to pay .75 just to ‘order’ a book from another branch? At my (totally wonderful) library system, one reserves by computer, and the books travel between branches–I have only to designate where I want to pick it up. Payment is required only if I want the book/CD/DVD mailed to my home.

    Ah Science Fiction and Fantasy–no better way to get lost in thought.

    • Revanche says:

      Sadly, I called to confirm what that charge was and they said it was indeed to request a book from another branch. I was so hoping it wouldn’t be true. 🙁

  2. Karen says:

    It’s free for me to get books delivered to my closest library however it’s a $1 fee if you fail to pick up a book on hold. I actually wouldn’t mind paying a small fee for the service as it beats me having to sit in the traffic! 🙂

    • Revanche says:

      Let’s be honest, there are things I’m just cheap about. I don’t like paying extra for books I don’t get to keep but I know the math generally works better than paying for gas. 😛

  3. Gosh, I haven’t been in a library in forever, except for the ones on the college campuses.

    Part of the reason is exactly what you mention: the hours are cattywampus. And here, library hours rotate in some strange and incomprehensible way, so different branches have different hours on different days. You never know when a library will open. After you’ve wasted a couple of trips only to find the joint closed, you just give up.

    When they are open, though, they’re mobbed, so any excuse they may offer to the effect that people don’t patronize branches is specious. Problem is, city governments just don’t want to pay salaries for librarians.

    • Revanche says:

      Oh yes, all the branches have different hours! I really do have the ability to check the hours online though so that shouldn’t be as much a thing.

  4. Great post. I’ve always loved books and to me, the library feels like my second home. I’m spoiled by my local library. They have the latest releases of tv shows and movies, so I hardly pay for movies anymore unless it’s something I really want to see on the big screen. I’m surprised more people don’t take advantage of something their tax dollars pay for – my coworkers go to Wal-Mart to pick up new books and order new movies on demand.

    • Revanche says:

      This is true, the use of the library has fallen out of use these days when we’re paying for it anyway. I was never in the habit of buying media but I will buy a few of those things that I know will get a LOT of use repeatedly.

  5. Disco Diva says:

    I love the library! I had mentioned I needed to run to the library during lunch one day at work and a coworker was SHOCKED that libraries still existed. I do foresee with more and more ebooks/readers that we will see fewer and fewer of them.

    I am almost exclusively ebook so I get an email and have 3 days to download it when its ready. When I have to actually go to the library, I have to check the hours. GA cut way back on the hours but I still appreciate when its open. We still have the hush..but its not the same. Huge computer bank is always filled with kids.

    I actually have to return a library book that was only a 14 day checkout! I was mad. I was finished but I need about a week or so to get back over there. Due to the cutbacks, even when its “overdue” they give you a couple of days before charging and if you have a book on hold, they hold it for a week instead of the 3 days.

    Libraries are awesome.

    • Revanche says:

      Do you know, maybe it’s because there are so many branches, but our system hasn’t been great about stocking ebooks. I can only find 1 ebook for every 20+ books I’d like in the catalogue.

      Your system seems to be more technologically proficient.

  6. […] on books and reading from @grumpyrumblings. I think my renewed library addiction will be the death of me. I’m reading every Terry Pratchett I can get my hands on and clocking […]

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