In case you were in any doubt, it pays to be on good terms with your local librarian.
Mine publishes a short weekly column in the local newspaper updating patrons (and potential patrons) on what’s new in the library this week. About a month ago I saw that Salman Rushdie’s latest novel, The Enchantress of Florence, had been received. I’ve read most of his work and really enjoy it, so I stopped in to peruse the new fiction shelf. I was disappointed to see that it was absent; I assumed it was already checked out.
I always have a stack of books waiting for my schedule to clear so I wasn’t too put out. However, when someone at the circulation desk asked if I was looking for something, I mentioned the book. She looked it up in the computer and frowned because it should have been on the shelf. After a bit of looking around in likely locations for misplaced volumes, I took some alternative reading and headed on my way. I didn’t bother placing a hold on the book as it wasn’t checked out in the first place, so the computer wouldn’t have known what to do with my request.
It was pretty surprising when I visited the library a couple of weeks later to return something, and there was The Enchantress of Florence, sitting on the shelf behind the circulation desk with my name tucked inside – waiting for me to either drop by or for someone to give me a call! It had turned up randomly and the librarian had remembered that I was looking for it.
As she said, there aren’t too many likely Rushdie readers in our small town of 6000 or so, so perhaps my request really stood out from the crowd. That said, I felt pretty gratified to know that the librarians are paying attention and doing their best to help patrons get what they’re looking for. What more could you ask for?
And although I’m smack in the middle of the book, I can say that it’s pretty good so far. Have you read any Rushdie lately? I’d recommend the Man Booker Prize winning Midnight’s Children (1981) as a great starting point.