Wednesday, April 5, 2017

mysterious polaroids at the Wichita Public Library

Robert, Rachel and I decided to hang out in Wichita for a couple days prior to the awards ceremony.  

Naturally, the Wichita Public Library was at the top of our list.  And it's officially on my all-time-most-very-bestest-favorite libraries list.  

Not only was it a bit musty and dated, the collection was also incredibly eclectic and interesting.  They had VHS mixed in with not only DVDs but also blue ray.  They also had some really unique, early books of poets that were signed.  And a card catalog.  Hanging out like it belonged there. Nearly made me weep.  

The library also had art that was framed and available for checkout.  And though they charge patrons to place items on hold, their Friends Program (which is people who donate to the library) was tiered, and if you paid $25 yearly you didn't have to pay for holds.  The best part of the Friends Program was that those who donated more than $25 a year had a grace period for fines.  
Whoa.  Cool stuff.

I love when public libraries do things differently. And I love when libraries have figured out a way to hold onto their paper/old collections.  I loved leafing through the filing cabinets full of clip art. Sure, I can look up clip art online, but it's so much more fun to dig through physical files.  I even found some curious butter molds at the bottom of one of the filing cabinets at the Wichita Library.  Except I didn't know what they were at first.  But the drawer was labeled!  So I figured it out!  Every library I've been to that still has clip art always has a unique collection.  The best collection was in a little Missouri library - filing cabinet after filing cabinet filled with pictures that patient librarians had clipped from newspapers and magazines and lovingly labeled.  And it was like 50+ years worth of "clipped" art.  

But the best experience at the Wichita Library came when I opened a poetry book and a polaroid fell out.

"WHAAA?!?" you ask.  "No way!"

Yes way!!  The polaroid (a much newer version of it), had a picture of another book and its call/page numbers.  I hustled over to the next book, and flipped through it and even unfolded the map (it was a travel book), but no luck.  Sadly, I put it back and that's when I noticed that another copy had fallen behind the shelf.  And the next polaroid was on the page that the last polaroid told me to look. WHOA.  So I found Rachel and Robert for the next journey.  We excitedly found the book, which was a "history of the library" book, and that's where the journey ended.  BUT HOW COOL IS THIS?  

If you are thinking that the Wichita librarians are part of the polaroid shenanigans you are mistaken. They are unflappable, "too busy"  and barely registered any amusement by our discovery.  

But think about it.  If I went from poetry to travel to the history of the library that means that somewhere in the 100s, 200s, 300s, 400s, 500s, 600s and 700s there are more polaroids to find. We had only so much time and so many quarters for the parking meter, so we eventually abandoned our search in the hopes that another library lover will find the missing polaroids.  

Will it be you?

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