Monday, July 7, 2008

Monroe St. Library, Madison Public Library System

I visited the Monroe Street branch of the Madison Public Library to check on the video game offerings at this neighborhood branch of the local public library system.

This was the library that was in my neighborhood when I was a kid, and I spent many hours, especially in the summer, perusing its shelves.

I was very surprised to discover a seemingly dwarfed library; truly, the space is the exact same size but seems much smaller to me now that I am older.

This library is also filled to the gills with children - there were probably ten, or more, of them on site during my brief visit.

The library's shelf space has been largely repurposed since the last time I visited (probably 20 years ago). Simply put, there are much fewer books, and those that are there are dominated by nonfiction (Visual C++ for Dummies, etc.). Beyond that, there are racks and racks of media - DVDs, books on tape, DVDs for kids, books on tape for kids, music CDs for kids and adults and so on.

What there is not, in this small and unruly library (filled with screaming kids), is any type of game or software for checkout. I was surprised by this, given that so much of the small space in here is consecrated to every other type of media imaginable.

When I inquired as to what the status of games were at this library, and at others in the system, the reference assistant told me that they simply are too cramped, spacewise, to be able to offer any titles. When I asked where I would have to go to find something (already knowing that the downtown main library does offer software), we honed in on the Sequoia branch, further to the west side of town, which is probably triple the size of poor Monroe Street.

Sure enough, we were able to locate titles in the online catalog - but for kids - available for the Mac and PC as CD-ROMs (at least that's how they were coded in the catalog).

The state of the Monroe Street library makes me awfully depressed. This is not how I remember it from childhood.


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