The local Chicago Public Library just re-opened after some weeks of construction. This closing coincided with the kid’s long weekend, so it was fairly painful for our family.
When I get there, I drive around in search of parking for a good ten minutes. The parking lot is half-occupied by city construction vehicles. I loop around and park a good distance away in the residential area, and carry a heavy bag of books to return inside. I get there and climb the historic flights of stairs to the upper level (the elevators are, of course, out of order). As I wander, I find that the audiobooks are inaccessible due to construction, but it’s only by wandering around the stacks that you actually find out.
So I go back downstairs and plonk down, exhausted, at a computer to explore the audiobooks and kids’ books on Mesopotamia and DVDs on fractions. We have lending privileges for many, many city and state libraries but on-shelf on-site holdings are far fewer than I had in the suburban library. I’ve spent a short amount of time wandering, lost, in the catalogue when a security guard/staff comes up to me and asks, accusingly, if I’m using the printer. I say no. He says, well, then you have to log off and go use the computers UPSTAIRS because these are the only ones available to printer-focused customers. I sigh and stare at him, wondering if I can tell him how much energy it’s cost me to get this far; but I just say, okay, I’ll leave in a moment.
He watches me, so I log off and leave. I go to the reference desk and a very helpful, nervous young lady to help me find materials on Mesopotamia and Sumeria (she needs help spelling them). We find stuff in the catalog, and she sends me back upstairs to get the DVD on the ancient world. Since the DVDs are also blocked by yellow tape, I ask an elderly staff lady upstairs to help me. She is not very happy today. I think of how glad I am that I chose not to bring the kid with me, as she would have by now thrown several hissy fits.
Meantime, construction is going on around me, and a strange dust fills my lungs and I start to cough and my throat starts to close up like never before. The lady takes a while. By the time she returns, I have lost all interest in my child’s education re: the ancient world. I stagger back downstairs, check all my stuff out, and travel back to my distant parking spot (which is blocked by some delivery vehicle).
As I pass celebratory banners about the Cubs, I think of how much/little I care that I live close to Wrigley Field and its historic events, and how much I miss the boring, shiny library in the northern suburbs.