The Library is Your Oyster...er...Hedgehog

Our guest blogger is Bart King, who writes humorous nonfiction for middle readers and immature adults. His greatest literary achievement is incorporating his name into the actual title of his new book: Bart’s King-Sized Book of Fun. He has over a half-million books in print, and his work has been translated into Chinese, Spanish, and Australian. Oh, and Bart prefers to be thought of as a “non-award winning author” despite some small evidence to the contrary. More about Bart at www.bartking.net.

So the Spanish word for “hedgehog” is erizo—

Oh, hello! I didn’t see you there. I was just working on a little project I have, namely learning Spanish. And maybe Urdu! After all, I can study 22 different languages through the Multnomah County Library website. If you’re not aware of this, the MCL has a subscription with a language education service called Mango. ¡Eso es fantastico! All you need is your library card; to take a look, just go to the MCL homepage, click on "Research" and then "Databases A-Z" and then "M" for Mango

When I’m done with my Spanish homework, it’ll be time for me to run a number of subject searches in the MCL catalog. Today I’m doing research for a humorous book for kids about evil (seriously). And I want to know what learned minds in the fields of anthropology, history, psychology and literature have to say about evil. (I’d think, “It’s bad” would pretty much cover it, but I’d better double-check to be sure.)

As much as I respect the MCL’s holdings, my work won’t be done until I consult the InterLibrary Loan link to see what titles exist in THE REST OF THE WORLD. That’s right, with ILL, I can see (and check out) the holdings of libraries in other counties, states and countries! 

You may have noticed that I haven’t tried your patience with a long list of the books I check out for pleasure reading. I think we can agree that people who do this sort of thing are insufferable show-offs. (That’s right Marc Acito, I’m talking about you!)

So let’s just say I check out a lot of books for personal reasons, and my motives for doing so are complex. For example, when the comics anthology Kramers Ergot 7 came out, it was priced beyond my shaky, arthritic grasp. So I checked it out from the library and found that my shaky, arthritic grasp was just strong enough to hang on to the volume while reading it. (And if you don’t find my motive particularly complex in the above example, let me assure you that being a cheapskate is a very nuanced state of affairs indeed.) 

If I check out a library book that I find I really love, I buy it. For example, on my nightstand are two books I checked out from the Hollywood branch and then quickly returned to the library and went out and bought:

  • Nick Hornby, Fever Pitch. This is Hornby’s memoir of growing up as a soccer fan in England during the 1980s.
  • David Mitchell, Black Swan Green. This is Mitchell’s thinly veiled memoir of growing up and listening to embarrassing music in England during the 1980s. (Spandau Ballet, anyone?)

As you can see, my reading tastes are far-reaching as long as the author provides the essential elements of good literature: Style, a rewarding subtext, and a plot about growing up in England in the 1980s.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I really must wrap up my Spanish studies. (What’s the right word for a baby hedgehog? I’m guessing hedgehogito, but I’d better check that…)