Best library ever?

I’m in cognitive behavioural therapy at the moment – or CBT boot camp as I’m coming to think of it. Don’t get me wrong, the therapist is fantastic, but the therapy itself is extremely intense. It’s not counselling. It’s a cold shower. You really delve, and the sessions can leave me tense and tearful. And there’s even homework. My life is like Martin Millar’s at the moment – except my therapist is much better than his.

Another good thing is that CBT has forced me out of my comfort zone. Walking to the clinic is always scary, but it’s getting less scary with each passing week. And on the way back I can go to the library – I haven’t been able to go there for months and the fines have piled up. The first time I attempted the journey, a couple of weeks back, it was fairly shaky – I was dizzy and disorientated, couldn’t concentrate on the book titles and had to leave after ten minutes.

The second attempt, however, I chose a book by Scarlett Thomas and got it to the counter. The guy serving commented on the book and recommended another. We rummaged around for a bit until he found the book he’d recommended and I got that one out as well. Seeing that I had no shoulderbag, he got a bag from behind the counter and gave it to me – not a flimsy plastic carrier but a good, strong totebag, which he said I could keep.

I was astonished by the high level of customer service here. In my experience it’s rare to find librarians who enjoy books. Most of them see books as priceless Ming pottery that must be handled with knifeedge care and attention (if at all) and yet there is no love for books in their attitude; they might as well be cans of beans. In their view, the library system would work perfectly well without members of the public coming in to borrow books and they generally treat you as if you’re a tramp swinging a bottle of White Ace in their back garden.

I said this to the Boardwalk library guy and we chatted for a bit and I even shook the guy’s hand. It’s rare to get good customer service these days, in the time of helplines that aren’t and support agencies that don’t.

And then I walked back along the Boardwalk.

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2 Responses to “Best library ever?”

  1. Sarah Franco Says:

    my library is great. it’s located on a palace and, because it’s the city’s central library, it has all the books published in Portugal (the national library always sends one of the books of the legal deposit there) and even foreign books, and the staff is really nice. most of them seem to love what they do and that gives a very warm environment.

    I find it curious that you use the expression ‘costumer’ to qualify the library users!

  2. maxdunbar Says:

    I know – the word ‘customer’ is awful – but everything in my country is run like a business and the language just seeps in.

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