I visited the academic library today to pick up a couple of books for my book-from-every-country project. (Unfortunately, it turned out that one of them was in its original Spanish, so I’ll have to track down the English translation elsewhere.)
I love visiting the university library, however I find that I frequently with an unexpected feeling of dissatisfaction. Here’s what happens:
1. I excitedly go to the library armed with the call numbers of a couple of books I want to check out.
2. In the process of finding the right shelves, I am drawn in by the random books I pass by on the way. I find myself leafing through The Faber Book of Anecdotes (a compilation of possibly apocryphal stories about famous people, sorted alphabetically by last name) or Modern Business Filing and Archives: A Guide to Current Practice (Published in 1963, a fascinating anachronism).
3. I leave the library and realize that I have spent far longer in the library than I meant to, but without having found additional books to read. Even though I enjoyed browsing, I feel like I’ve wasted time that I could have spent reading the books I actually went to the library for in the first place.
It’s the biblio-equivalent of snacking instead of eating dinner.
I never feel this way when I leave the public library. For whatever reason, I don’t snack there- I just gather books and take them home to feast upon. And I leave feeling far more satisfied.