Monday, August 31, 2009

#25: Mira Mesa Branch

Visiting Time: 1:15-1:45
Did I get lost on my way? Yes. I should know better than to attempt a shortcut.
Book Checked out: Dance For Two (Alan Lightman)

Book Selection: 3 bookmarks
Seating: 3 bookmarks
Staff: 4 bookmarks
Architecture/Atmosphere: 3 bookmarks
Total: 13 bookmarks

Summer's over, and gone with it is my free time. Today, I went to the Mira Mesa branch not to use up my time, but to get away from my hectic pace. But chaos followed me to this branch, as there were masses of teenagers and adults all over this library. One group of teens was even getting a stern talking-to from a librarian. I'm not saying crowds in a library is a bad thing, I'm just saying it wasn't exactly a zen experience.

Knowing my time to read would be short, I checked out a book of very short science-related essays by MIT professor Alan Lightman. In the first one, this physicist-slash-novelist makes sense of gravity through ballet. I don't think the rest will disappoint.

Pictures:
(I'm not sure of the symbolism of this support beam corona, but I like it.)


(Foot stools! This branch is more comfortable than my home.)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

#24: Clairemont Branch

Visiting Time: 12:30-1:15
Did I get lost on my way? No.
Book Checked out: A Rum Affair: the true story of botanical fraud (Karl Sabbagh)

Book Selection: 2 bookmarks
Seating: 2 bookmarks
Staff: 4 bookmarks
Architecture/Atmosphere: 2 bookmarks
Total: 10 bookmarks

This is the quietest branch I've been in thus far. Not a peep from anyone on a computer or in the stacks. Even the children--one of whom accidentally hit me with an inflatable guitar (it was pretty funny)--didn't make a peep.

It took me a while to choose a book. I'll be out of town this weekend (not to fear, I will be doubling up on libraries next week), so whatever I picked I'd be with for four whole days. I eventually decided on A Rum Affair. Lately, I've been most excited by nonfiction investigations, travel logs, case studies. This book isn't about alcohol, but rather a British botanist who was up to no good. Mystery and intrigue will, I hope, ensue.

Pictures:
No interior photos today. The sound of my camera would've startled the whole place.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

#23: Rancho Penasquitos Branch

RANCHO PENASQUITOS BRANCH (You gotta have friends)
Visiting Time: 1:00-1:15
Did I get lost on my way? No.
Book Checked out: A Map of Home (Randa Jarrar)

Book Selection: 3 bookmarks
Seating: 3 bookmarks
Staff: 4 bookmarks
Architecture/Atmosphere: 3 bookmarks
Total: 13 bookmarks

So I started this library tour project because I had some extra time this summer. Now, with classes having resumed for me (as both a Spanish student and assistant ESL teacher), some libraries are getting short shrift. I stopped into the RB library between classes.

With my new semester starting, I was in the mood for something bright and shiny. So I went to the "New Releases" section and chose A Map of Home. Which, it turns out, is almost a year old. But according to Lakin's review of her local library, The Petaluma Library considers the seventies to be new. So the book I checked out is hot off the presses. With such a crazy day, I haven't read past the first page.

I do want to admit, though, that I read all of yesterday's book. And while the first-person omniscient (think about it for a minute...huh?) was a bit odd, the book had one of the best endings I've read in some time. Of course, I won't give it away here; you'll have to devote two hours of your own to this juvenile book (124 pages of large print), and see for yourself.

Pictures:
(A second exterior photo.)


(The world need more paisley, and the RP library is doing its part.)


(Palm tree atrium next to a study area.)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

#22: Ocean Beach Branch

OCEAN BEACH BRANCH
Visiting Time: ? (Who cares? It's OB!)
Did I get lost on my way? No.
Book Checked out: The Baby-sitters Club #130: Stacey's Movie (Ann M. Martin)

Book Selection: 2 bookmarks
Seating: 2 bookmarks (good seats/cushions in kids' section!)
Staff: 4 bookmarks
Architecture/Atmosphere: 3 bookmarks
Total: 11 bookmarks

Julie accompanied me to this branch. We were inside five seconds when a librarian clerk named Michael spotted me. Michael and I go way back. All the way to Sunday and the Point Loma library. He gave me a map of all library locations in not only San Diego city, but the county. If only the maps were available in large supply, I'd wallpaper a room with them, like the subway map wallpaper at those sandwich shops.

Julie and I then high-tailed it into the kid's section. While Julie tried skim-reading her way to find out "the secret" in Hatchet (she found it, it's a kiss), I browsed the turn racks and was amazed to find the ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTIETH BOOK in the Baby-sitters Club series. Oh, to be the author of such a franchise.

I'd devoured these books as a kid, and remember spending all my money on them at the Little Professor bookstore. Since I only have one day with each book on this whirlwind tour, I've yet to read something cover to cover. But if ever I'm to do it, tonight might be it.

Pictures:
(New boogie board in hand, Julie checks out the children's section.)


Monday, August 24, 2009

#21: Carmel Valley Branch

Visiting Time: 6:22-6:23PM
Did I get lost on my way? No. I am here every week.
Book Checked out: Jimmy Stewart: a life in film (Roy Pickard)

Book Selection: 3 bookmarks
Seating: 3 bookmarks
Staff: 4 bookmarks
Architecture/Atmosphere: 4 bookmarks
Total: 14 bookmarks

This is my home base library branch, and I'd been saving its review until I ran into a pickle one day and didn't have time to travel to a branch. Today was that day. I stopped in here for no more than a minute, picked the first book I saw, snapped my photo, and went on my merry (or frantic) way to class.

But it's worth mentioning that this is the city's busiest branch. And while I still have 15 libraries to go, I have to agree. Anytime that I'm in here, there are people everywhere: on the computers, in the thick of the stacks, reading magazines in chairs, or hanging out in the children's area.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

#20: Point Loma Branch

POINT LOMA BRANCH (You gotta have friends)
Visiting Time: 1:30-2:30PM
Did I get lost on my way? No. :)
Book Checked Out: A Century of Car Design (Penny Sparke)

I go one day without a bookmark ranking and I hear about it from the masses, or the five people who read this blog. So the rankings are back.

Book Selection: 3 bookmarks
Seating: 3 bookmarks
Staff: 4 bookmarks
Architecture/Atmosphere: 4 bookmarks
Total: 14 bookmarks

This branch took a cue from McDonald's and their outdoor playground in designing the children's area. The stairs that lead down to the children's level are encompassed in a ship, complete with a captain's wheel, passageways and portholes. The children's level also has worktables shaped like wooden surfboards, and a periscope that leads up to the street level.

Another patron and I struck up a conversation around a poster depicting the Poets Laureate of California. He told me about Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and I told him about Quincy Troupe. And then we went our separate ways, off to different ends of the book aisles. It was like this perfect, momentary, encounter.

The gentleman to whom I will be giving English lessons this week loves cars. So I checked out A Century of Car Design in the hope that we can read some of the short sections together. I can teach him English, and he can teach me a little about Bugatti.

Pictures:
(Top of the staircase.)


(Ship's inside.)


(Ship's backside.)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

#19: Balboa Branch

BALBOA BRANCH
Visiting Time: 1:30-1:45PM
Did I get lost on my way? No. Bryan drove.
Book Checked Out: Italy

Bryan and I were in and out of this branch. We were starving, and Costco called. But it's been around since '71, and used to be called the Mesa Vista branch. There are also ten churches in the area. Which seems fitting, because the roof of this library looks like an Eastern place of worship to me. I'm still disappointed that this branch didn't once serve as an In-N-Out.

I will be giving some English lessons to an Italian gentleman next week, so I checked out Italy in order to learn a little more about his culture.

This blog entry is underwhelming. If you feel cheated, head over to Rhymes with Bacon, where Lakin will soon be reviewing the libraries of Sonoma County. Do you think the usual "No drinks allowed" rule is waived at their Wine Library?

Picture:
(Bryan looks through Architectural Digest.)

Friday, August 21, 2009

#18: Oak Park Branch

Visiting Time: 2:00-3:15PM
Did I get lost on my way? No. :)
Book Checked Out: A Woman Alone: Travel tales from around the world

Book Selection: 1 bookmark
Seating: 2 bookmarks
Staff: 4 bookmarks
Architecture/Atmosphere: 2 bookmarks
Total: 9 bookmarks

While reading at this branch, a mother called looking for her son. The librarian announced the boy's name, and he came and took the receiver. She'd wanted to tell him she was on her way, and that he should wait outside.

After the boy left, the librarian told the security guard that she often has problems with children being left alone at the library after it closes. She says their policy is to wait with the child for fifteen minutes, and then call the police. Somehow I would've thought there are rules against leaving young children in public places unattended for even a minute.

I've never thought of libraries as somewhere to leave your child while you work or run errands. As a child, I was fortunate enough to have a mother who didn't have to work. When I went to the library, it was with her.

Today I borrowed A Woman Alone, which is a collection of solo travel essays written by women. So far I've discovered a place I'd never heard of before--the Faroe Islands--and learned that maybe Italian men aren't as forward as their stereotype indicates.

Pictures:
There were a lot of people in this branch, and I didn't want to disturb them by taking too many photos. But here are two:
(Nice neon.)


(Art along the far wall.)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

#17: North Clairemont Branch

NORTH CLAIREMONT BRANCH
Visiting Time: 4:00-5:00PM
Did I get lost on my way? No!
Book Checked Out: The Driver (Alexander Roy)

Book Selection: 2 bookmarks
Seating: 2 bookmarks
Staff: 4 bookmarks
Architecture/Atmosphere: 3 bookmarks
Total: 11 bookmarks

When I pulled up to this library and saw its zigzag roof, I was transported back to my childhood, and the Girl and Boy Scout events in Orange County that I associate with this architecture.

The Mini that Bryan and I ordered has been on my mind lately (mainly in the form of, "When's it gonna be here? Why isn't it here?"), so I checked out The Driver, which is about a man's experiences in open-road car rallies and races, including the Gumball 3000. And again, I was transported back to my childhood, when I loved watching our Beta copies of "The Cannonball Run" and "The Gumball Rally." While the author has a frustratingly poor grasp of the past perfect tense, it's still an interesting read.

Pictures:
(Customer service to rival Nordstroms'.)


(Cool roof.)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

#16: Linda Vista Branch

Visiting Time: 3:00-4:15PM
Did I get lost on my way? No, of course not. I just took in the sights of University Heights, Kensington, and North Park first.
Book Checked Out: The Undomestic Goddess (Sophie Kinsella)

Book Selection: 3 bookmarks
Seating: 3 bookmarks
Staff: 4 bookmarks
Architecture/Atmosphere: 3 bookmarks
Total: 13 bookmarks

By the time I found this branch, I was a little slap-happy. I entered thinking I'd throw caution to the wind and check out something by Jackie Collins. But when I found her titles on the shelf, I just couldn't go through with it. So I settled for chick lit, and Sophie Kinsella's The Undomestic Goddess.

I am five chapters in, and must admit it's a fun book. The first-person present voice doesn't quite work for me, but I'm not necessarily reading it as something I want to emulate.

Unlike yesterday's experience, this branch was brimming with people actually looking for, checking out, and reading books. While I was reading the Kinsella book in the reading/study area (see below photo), a man came up and began looking through the bound collections of National Geographic. He finally chose an edition from the 1990's (I only saw the decade, not the year; I didn't stare that obviously) and spend twenty minutes looking through it.

The San Diego Public Library Foundation has posted a short news item about my journey. They send out an e-newsletter, which is a great way to stay up-to-date on what's happening (especially if your local branch doesn't have a "Friends of" group). If you live in San Diego, sign up for it!

Pictures:
(A woefully backlit photo of a cool raised reading area.)


(Unlike the College branch, this one is chock full of books.)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

#15: City Heights/Weingart Branch

Visiting Time: 12:30-1:15PM
Did I get lost on my way? Ugh. Yes.
Book Checked Out: About Alice (Calvin Trillin)

Book Selection: 2 bookmarks
Seating: 3 bookmarks
Staff: 4 bookmarks
Architecture/Atmosphere: 2 bookmarks
Total: 11 bookmarks

I once attended a party where a couple learned the sex of their pending baby. It was written on a card inside an envelope, and when the husband pulled it out and said "it's a boy," their faces both alighted. It was a private moment that I felt humbled, and slightly embarrassed, to have witnessed. Every day that I pull up to a library, I feel an iota of this excitement. I never know what I'll get. Both of yesterday's branches were small, and not a whole lot to look at. Although--like a book--you can't judge a library by its cover, because inside they're all the same: they hold books.

The City Heights Branch, though, is in a hip new building. The fireplace chairs on the lower level (photo below) are great, perhaps bested only by the chairs on the upper level.

My trip was slightly dampened by the realization that while there were a good deal of people in this library, they all seemed to either be on the internet, or waiting for the internet. Rows of bookcases stood like silent, dignified statues--like members of the Terracotta Army--just waiting to be called to action.

The trip was then further dampened when a security guard told me photography was prohibited. Which is strange, because I've never seen this rule posted anywhere. The fact that this branch needs a security guard tells me they must have problems, so perhaps the guard was worried I'd do something nefarious (what, I don't know).

After putting away my camera, I checked out About Alice. This is a book I saw at the Scripps Ranch Branch, and regretted not checking out.

Pictures:
(Ah, the end of summer.)


(Ottomans! Ottomans in a library!)


(View from the upstairs study area.)


(Old reserve card from a Laura Ingalls Wilder biography.
Those three hand-written words are names of borrowers.)

CBS/KFMB News Clip

You can watch the CBS/KFMB news clip here.

Monday, August 17, 2009

#14: Logan Heights Branch

Visiting Time: 2:00-2:30PM
Did I get lost on my way? Yes. Extremely.
Book Checked Out: Boom! talking about the sixties (Dan Rather)

Book Selection: 2 bookmarks
Seating: 2 bookmarks
Staff: 4 bookmarks
Architecture/Atmosphere: 3 bookmarks
Total: 11 bookmarks

The KFMB guys wanted to shoot me at two different libraries, so I visited two branches today. Which is perfect because I needed to double up on one day to account for Labor Day, when everything's closed. So after Mission Hills, Larry, Bruce, and I headed over to the Logan Heights Branch. It is really embarrassing to lose your way when a news crew is waiting on you.

Again, Google Maps? Again? What gives? I thought we had a thing going, I thought we had something special. You helped me successfully get to six consecutive libraries. Where'd the love go? There is a big difference between east and west. I think we need a break, and I need to see other map programs. I hope you understand. It's not you, it's me.

There is a super-shiny mega new library in the works to replace this one. But until that happens, this library is situated in a most wonderful Spanish style building. The librarian, Aline, told me that the new branch has been delayed, but will hopefully open by the end of the year. She told me, with a twinge of sadness, that they have a slew of books in storage, just waiting to be offered up to us San Diegans.

I borrowed Dan Rather's book about the 1960's, Boom! I've heard good things about it. Plus, it seemed appropriate with all the news coverage of late about fortieth anniversary of Woodstock.

If I have one regret from taping this news piece, it's that I didn't get to recite, in order, from memory, the libraries that I've visited thus far. But perhaps remembering twelve isn't too impressive. If I can do it in two more weeks, I'll record it myself and put it on Stray Carrier Pigeon.

Many thanks to Larry, Bruce, and KFMB for taking an interest in my project and promoting our local libraries.

Pictures:
(Super-hip literary art. Protected from rain with a tarp.)


(Larry browses for a book of his own.)


(Yes, I stood in an intersection for this shot. Great shot, though, right?)


(New, in-progress Logan Heights Branch.)

#13: Mission Hills Branch

Visiting Time: 1:00-1:45PM
Did I get lost on my way? No. I checked my directions three times.
Book Checked Out: My Alexandria (Mark Doty)

Book Selection: 2 bookmarks
Seating: 2 bookmarks
Staff: 4+ bookmarks
Architecture/Atmosphere: 2 bookmarks
Total: 10+ bookmarks

Before today, Bryan was the only person who's accompanied me to a library. Today, Larry Himmel and his cameraman, Bruce, from CBS/KFMB came along.

The story will air (and will probably be teased as "a nutty woman is secreting herself away in libraries this summer--details after the break") on Tuesday during the 5 o'clock news.

A good reporter not only asks smart questions, but also makes their interviewee feel at ease. From Larry's questions, it was clear that he'd researched me and my project; from the way he posed his questions, it was clear he has a gift for working with people.

I think every San Diegan remembers Larry Himmel reporting in front of the rubble of his house during the 2007 wildfires. The news is current events. It is wars and health care bills and crime. It is also the experiences of people, the very things that make us up, like a reporter turning the microphone on himself for a personal tragedy. And maybe even one woman's quest for books.

A librarian named Harlynne (who is also a professional storyteller) helped me choose a poetry book. She talked up an Edna St. Vincent Millay poem but, alas, we couldn't find it. So I settled for Mark Doty's My Alexandria, which really isn't settling at all.

Pictures:
(Bryan tries to sell Larry on a news story about pond scum.)


(A mobile from a previous summer's "Go for the Gold" reading program.)


(Bruce asks me a question of his own.)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

#12: Pacific Beach/Taylor Branch

Visiting Time: 2:00-2:45PM
Did I get lost on my way? No (But Bryan drove. And I've been to this branch before.)
Book Checked Out: Western Garden Problem Solver

Book Selection: 3 bookmarks
Seating: 3 bookmarks
Staff: 4+ bookmarks
Architecture/Atmosphere: 4 bookmarks
Total: 14+ bookmarks

Like many of the others branches I've visited, you could come to the PB library for a couple hours, not even like books, and thoroughly enjoy yourself. Not only are the chairs comfortable enough for a nap, you can take in some great art.

This branch has an art gallery as part of the library's Visual Arts Program. Lucky for me, its curator, Mark-Elliott Lugo, was at the branch today and happy to tell me about it. He founded the VA Program at the PB branch in 1997. It makes sense because the library, which resembles a nautilus shell, has enough panache to be a contemporary art museum. Current exhibit.

I came here today knowing what book I wanted. At home, there is a fungus among us. On our dwarf apple tree. So I borrowed Western Garden Problem Solver to see if I couldn't eradicate the little sucker. It turns out the fungus is Powdery Mildew. The book says to try washing the tree, pruning its affected regions, and spraying a fungicide. Bryan thinks it might be worthwhile (or at least fun!) to try freezing it off with dry ice. Wish us luck.

Pictures:
(It's hard to tell, but these seats are halfway between chairs and barstools.)


(I don't know what this is, but I like it.)


("The Wizard of Oz"-inspired works by Joe Nyiri.)


(I figure out what's wrong with our tree.)


(What Powdery Mildew looks like.)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

#11: Skyline Hills Branch

Visiting Time: 12:00-1:45PM
Did I get lost on my way? No (But I did get lost going home. Go figure.)
Book Checked Out: Children of a Lesser God (Mark Medoff)

Book Selection: 1 bookmarks
Seating: 1 bookmarks
Staff: 4 bookmarks
Architecture/Atmosphere: 2 bookmarks
Total: 8 bookmarks

My journey to the Skyline Hills branch took me on the 125 freeway for the first time. I am truly living now.

This 4,000-square-foot branch opened July 16, 1969. Its building has a covered drive-through lane (imagine the tree isn't in the above photo) that leads into the parking lot, so I thought perhaps it was a converted In-N-Out Burger. But a clerk told me the building was constructed to be the library. I sort of wish she would've lied and played along; it would've made a better story.

When I told the clerk what I was doing, she asked if I were also visiting the county libraries. In this instant, any "coolness" that I thought I'd gained in undertaking this project was lost. It's like when you're hiking a mountain and you think you're near the peak, only to summit what is a false peak and realize you have miles more (or thirty-three county libraries) to go. All I could tell the clerk was that I'd make my way through the city libraries first, and then consider tackling the county ones. I suppose you always have to have a goal.

I checked out the play Children of a Lesser God. For me, there is something alluring about getting up to speed on the pop culture that was before my time (or before I could read). You hear about things a few years after the fact, you want to be in the know. Plus, if something's still being talked about, it can't be because it's mediocre.

Pictures:
(The view from above.)


(Christian apologist nonfiction incorrectly filed between reference books on Shakespeare and Tom Stoppard.)


video
(Free books, cheap gas.)