an open letter to the town public library

We used to be friends. It was so simple when you were the only real library I could turn to, before I went to college or apprenticed in the workings of Interlibrary Loan. The children’s department, with its tables to color at and its endless shelves of The Babysitter’s Club or Animorphs, seemed a dream. In middle and high school, even the littleness of the YA section felt excusable. But now I am an adult and suddenly, the selection I once saw so abundant strikes me as poor. Shockingly poor. Yes, you have aisles and aisles of books in your fancy modernist building, but where are all the ones I want to read? Where?

I have always been a dramatic person, but still this hits me as an act of betrayal. More than disillusioned, I feel the sting of a slap. Surely you can’t be so incompetent, so I can only assume it is a personal vendetta. Perhaps you’ve developed ESP and can sense the books on my reading list, only to make sure you don’t order them. Why else wouldn’t you have The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao? It was on the bestseller list forever and won about every award there is. Or Michael Chabon’s A Model World –– where is that? You own literally every other book Chabon’s written, including his NOVELLAS. So why don’t you have that particular story collection?

I hate to argue. We used to have such good times together. But now, each time I visit it seems you are missing another two or three books I want to read. It kills me. And then when I’m fed up, when I give up hoping you’ll order it and I fall back on Interlibrary Loan, you go and do something like waive my fees, even though that Joyce Carol Oates book is a week late.

What do you want from me? I don’t understand why it has to be so complicated. We can work it out. Call me when you’ve expanded your horizons. I’ll be waiting, rereading Harry Potter again because it’s the only damn book you have.



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