Lately I have been walking to most of my local destinations, but today I felt the press of time and so drove to the UC Langsam Library to check out Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. It was a warm and humid day. I parked at the meters that line MLK Blvd, being Sunday and the meters free, instead of parking in the garage connected to the library, which charges $3 an hour. I jaunted up a grass hill, past the engineering building, and went through the revolving door of the heavily air-conditioned library.
There are two flights of stairs that lead to the section of the library that carries most of the literature selections. I had gotten my call number from home and familiarity with the library meant little time wasted before I was making my way through the isles. Like most anyone, I browse the shelves when I walk. The names that I recognized before finding Frankenstein were Sartre, Proust, Wordsworth, and Shelley. I love this part of the library visit, the names that pop out with memories attached to them—the young thrill of existentialism, the unread Swann’s Way, writing about The Prelude for my exams, and always being a little too ignorant of Romanticism.
The library has, as would be expected, several copies of Frankenstein. I leafed through several to find the size, font, and page color I like. A smaller book with browned pages and a nice round font seemed best, even with the copious underlining and marginalia. I normally like a clean text, but the other qualities of the book were perfect, and since I’m reading the book as part of a book club, I thought the marks would somehow add to the leisure of reading.
Satisfied with my selection I made my way to the self-checkout machine. I noted along the way the emptiness of the library, which is not unusual in the summer. It turned out the self-checkout machine was out of receipt paper, so I had to go to the main desk to check out the book. I waited a moment while an elderly man finished checking out, and then gave my book and card to the librarian (by his age, a student worker, most probably). I explained the paper issue in the self-checkout machine, but we had a slight miscommunication that was uncomfortable for a moment, but was quickly resolved. I think I may have been mumbling.
I left the library in good spirits. As I ran a little down the grassy hill, I decided to stop at the drug store across the street from my apartment and get a bag of Doritos to enjoy with my book. All in all, the UC Langsam Library is a great Sunday destination. I highly recommend it. And, if you have a few hours to kill, there are plenty of tables out in the open as well as study desks tucked in various corners of the library. There is also a special eating room with vending machines. And, the library is furnished with several computers, for those with more electronic appetites. Bon reading.