I am not a monogamous bibliophiliac. I rarely feel the need to own a book and I frequently purge those books that I have somehow come to possess. I like sharing, especially with public libraries. In fact I am probably addicted to public libraries. I have been known to claim that I couldn't live without access to a decent public library. In reality this has meant I have sometimes lived for short periods of time in the neighbourhood of impovershed public libraries, but I always move on before I'm reduced to reading Georgette Heyer or farming almanacs.
So it was with no little trepidation that I joined the Whangarei District Libraries (WDL) as my first official act on obtaining evidence of residence in said District. It was remarkably easy to become a member (haven't these people heard about the book thievery in Christchurch?). And I managed to accumulate a small pile for issuing.
Mostly though, I consoled myself on that first visit with the future promise of the big fancy new library being built down the road. The rabbit warren that currently houses the central library contained what felt like a paucity of 'good' books (i.e. those I'm interested in reading) in a series of very cramped spaces. I was, however, thrilled to find the second season of Six Feet Under on DVD, and managed to watch all 13 episodes inthe one week before it was due back (if anyone wants to loan me the third season let me know- I promise to return it soon)!
Thankfully my dear bibliophiliac friend, Sista D, is keeping me well stocked from her personal, extensive and extremely facinating library so I don't feel too desperate about finding enough to read yet.
However, all the perceived shortcomings of the WDL were obliterated (at least for the moment) when I enjoyed the first Mobile Library experience of my adult life. I had noted today it was making its monthly visit to Purua School (only 6 kms from my place) and I requested several books by phone and internet. The big shiny bus was waiting in the car park when I arrived, the first eager customer up its steps. I was enchanted to find a complete library in miniature inside-even a beanbag in the kids section.
The friendly, helpful librarian had two of my requests waiting for me and I took the opportunity to browse the shelves. The stacks were as small as you would expect but catered to a wide age range. I had expected more large print books and Georgette Heyer (a prejudice based on my exposure to the politics of Wellington Mobile Libraries when I worked at WCC) . There was an emphasis on New Zealand non-fiction and I was pleased to find an enticing book about kiwi- my new favourite bird.
The only downside of the Mobile Library is that I have to wait a whole four weeks before it comes again. But when it does, Glenn the lovely librarian promises to bring me out some CDs (we discovered a common liking for 'world' music) and a book on the meanings of Maori place names.
Somehow the mobility of the Mobile Library makes a virtue of its small size- it seems intimate rather than cramped, accessible rather than limited and has wonderfully personalised service. If I can just manage to tap into a larger sci fi collection I think I will be able to keep living in Whangarei Library's District for a very long time.