Monday, March 18, 2024

This is my life again: Library limitations

I joined the Timaru Library when I was five years old and it was the most amazing place I'd ever seen. That's where I could find the Hardy Boys books I hadn't read, and I haunted the D section, looking for them, as well as Terrance Dicks' Doctor Who books.

They also had Gerry Davis' Doctor Who and the Cybermen (aka The Moonbase) in that area, the second Doctor Who book I ever read after the incomparable Dalek Invasion of Earth, and there was plenty of new material from the imaginary Franklin W Dixon.

If course I signed back up the first week back in town. That's what I always do when I move to a new town, but it's fair to say a population of less than 30k can't compete with a library system built for 1.5 million people, and I've been spoiled by them big city collections.

For years I have used the library to keep up on all the fun in modern superheroics, all the main X-Men and Batman and Spider-Man and Justice League comics, and all the different versions of Daredevil. Entire series like Once and Future, or all the latest Image series. All the obvious blockbuster smart comics from Clowes or Beaton or whoever. And it didn't cost me a cent, because sometimes civilization works.

But now my new llbrary doesn't have that kind of budget, and I quickly drained the interesting stuff from the new shelves. It was pleasingly random, and I managed to catch up on DC and Marvel comics from a decade or so ago - Paul Cornell's Superman comics, and the Gotham Central stuff.

So instead of getting dozens and dozens of brand new books from the graphic novel section every year, I have to spend the next 12 months making do with what I can get.

But I keep finding that in an age of unending choice, it's actually refreshing to have some restrictions, and not have access to everything, all of the time.

It's forced me into sections of the library  I don't usually haunt. I have to cast a net wider than the usueal graphic novels, books about films and the shelves of new releases at the front door. and then I stumble across things like a biography of Colin Wilson, who might have been a great young existentialist, but will always be the dude from The Unexplained magazine to me

This has happened before - I picked the Timaru Library dry of all the obvious stuff in the first quarter century of my life, and before I fucked off to the big city, I was literally looking for th o ldest spines I could find on the shelves, trying to find some forgotten masterpiece. (I mainly just ended up with a lot of great Graham Greene books.) 

And even without the regular dosage of library books, I still get my comic fix, because I brought boxes of old faves with me, and it's a good chance to read things like the Nemo books from League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, or that last brilliant Luther Arkwright book, or a big chunk of prestige format beauties.

So I still get my kicks by taking the time to browse the library and getting what I can, and I wouldn't mind finding some more of those forgotten masterpieces, lurking on the shelves.

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