July/August 2013 home page

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Mobile Books
Ann Gardner | Via Latina


The label on the front says the book belongs to the Berkeley Public Library. I immediately visualize the brick building on the corner of Hopkins and Alameda. It is where I drop off two grandsons and wait for their school bus. The group mingles in small bunches that multiply as the time for the bus arrival gets closer. I enjoy watching a group of young girls sprawled out with their books on the high wall at the top of the library steps, whispering to each other. The boys are in a group or not, some with back packs and checking out their iPods. Some parents are here, catching up with each other; they all laugh as the “always late” parent pulls up at the same time the bus arrives. My youngest grandson who isn’t even in preschool yet yells out, as his older brothers board, “I like that bus.”

But I digress. I digress because the book I have picked up from the Del Mar Library has that prominent “Do Not Remove This Label” sticker on its cover, identifying it as belonging to the Berkeley Public Library. There is a hefty lost book fee of $115. How did this happen? Why do I have a book from Berkeley? Then I remember that I had used the County Library system’s Link+ catalogue. This is a kind of magical place where unavailable books become available.

You can find Link+ on the San Diego County Library website under Catalogues, in the left hand column. Link+ brings books from expected places, San Francisco Public Library and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo for instance, to the less expected such as the California Maritime Academy, to the Del Mar Library. Once I got a book from Las Vegas; I never would have guessed that Las Vegas had a library of all things. But of course they do.

This avenue for books is so rewarding I feel those who are reading only via Kindle and Nook are missing out on the fun, the mental imagery that happens every time I get a book from a place that brings back memories, creates new visions such as a library in a casino city or transports me to a college carrel. Then I worry e-books will eventually replace physical places; no more stacks to peruse; no more new comfortable spots to read; the friendly librarians, or the Saturday morning trips to the library where grandchildren lay out on the carpet, haloed by books.

But I digress again. The point is, if you haven’t traveled via Link+, now is your chance to try it out. You never know where you will end up.



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