Notes from Windward: #61


Books in the Woods

Terri talks about library access from Windward

Ever need to check a book in the middle of the night? Ever need the answer to a question and get to the library to search out the information to find that they had cut their hours once again? This had been a frustrating problem for me for a very long time. Sure the internet was a vast place, but if you didn't want to pay the money to get into the research sites you had to take a chance that things you were able to find and access were correct and not skewed in one particular direction. And for me personally, I much preferred to have the paper in my hand rather than strain my neck reading a monitor. Please don't say I should have just printed out what I needed. Have you paid the high price of printer cartridges lately?

Well, moving to Windward I was concerned that I would be even more isolated from the library. I believed that now I not only had to worry about library hours being slashed due to budget cuts, but that without a car and without knowledge of the area I would be lost. I even made sure to pay a visit to a local used bookstore so I would have reading materials for a while. Was I ever wrong.

Goldendale, the nearest town provided a local library. Not only was it new, well lighted, but it also had wonderful places to sit and read. The library was also amazingly modern with plenty of computers to access the library search systems and the Internet as well. The collection of materials there is vast and includes many new paperbacks that some libraries are hesitant to carry. But all these wonders still weren't going to do me a lot of good if I couldn't get into town to take advantage of them. I was in for yet another surprise.

As I was getting my local library card the librarian told me about their online access. It seemed that with my library card and an Internet connection I could access their catalogs from anywhere. I was amazed and couldn't wait to try it. Even through I had just gotten books I went back to Windward and managed to get online. As I surfed the home page I discovered that my library card was not just good for Goldendale, but anything within the Fort Vancouver Region. That meant a lot more opportunities to find materials that I might want to read. I searched for one of my favorite authors, R.A. Salvatore, and found that they had one of his newer paperbacks in the system. It was in some town's library that I didn't recognize, but when I clicked to have a hold placed on it for me I found to my astonishment that I could have them sent the book directly to me!

Can you imagine having the ability to have books sent directly to you at Windward? This was unheard of! I'd once lived in Southern California and while my library card gave me access to a lot of libraries I either had to go myself to get the book, or I would have it sent to my local library, and then go pick it up. Here I was like a kid in a toy store at Christmas. I went nuts!

The library search not only did the typical author, title, subject, but they had the New York Bestsellers list for hardback and paperback. I checked out the lists and had them send the ones I wanted directly to me. Some had other people waiting for it, but that was fine since the holds just went in order and the book would be sent when it became available.

Books arrive in the mail in brown packing envelopes. At first I ripped open the brown bulky envelopes at the zip opening, but later discovered that wasn't the best way. Since the library charges NOTHING for this service, they need our help as the patrons and benefactors of the system to save money. So they ask us to open the envelopes from the stapled ends rather than the pull tab. The next time that you take books back to your local library turn your envelopes as well. These then are recycled to someone else who needs a book sent to them.

Another major benefit of the system is how you can return your materials anywhere you need to. That means anything shipped to me, no matter where it's from I return to the Goldendale Library. So if I have an appointment in town, or someone else does they can take materials back for you. Why just yesterday we returned three bags filled with books and envelopes.

Since I've been at Windward I've been able to spend time reading and researching. No more am I forced to hurry in my search because someone is looking over my shoulder to use the computer. Now I can take my time in the comfort of my own office here at Windward and research to my heart's content. I've found little known novels by beloved authors, and tracked down some curious myths and legends. Most recently I used my online abilities to order a book on the history of labyrinths. I'm hoping to gather enough information to actually build one here at Windward. It's my second project for Windward that utilized the library and my Internet connection. Previously I've researched and built a Native American Medicine Wheel for meditation.

Whatever your interests you are sure to be able to find it with this wonderful Internet connection. To have a service such as this without charge has improved the quality of my own personal life. I'm an avid reader and I love nothing more than to research and ferret out odd bits of information. Besides, its rather exciting to get the mail and see all the books there. More importantly, at Windward I have the time and the desire to read and explore new concepts and ideas. Funny to imagine I had to travel so far from a major city to have such conveniences.