Visit your local library's newly-designed website and you could be forgiven for thinking they don't have any, you know, actual books.
It's all children's DVDs and digital tools for the learning impaired, inconvenient volunteer opportunities at do-gooding community events, and those God-awful talks by egotistical bores on tedious subjects that only the loneliest of lonely souls could possibly be interested in attending.
Visit the library building itself and you still might conclude there are no books available. The rusting, cobwebbed shelves of neglected literature are usually hidden down some forgotten basement corridor, requiring passage through double-locked doors, behind the bathrooms or opposite the boiler and gas pipes.
It's almost as if you must borrow a how-to book about exploring in order to locate a how-to book about exploring. Only the most determined adventurer can hack his way through the dense jungle of Yoga For The Aged class timetables and bake sale leaflets to find the History section.
The other visitors will be firmly entrenched at the free Internet access workstations the library provides. These grimy terminals occupy most of the floor space, their huddled users the sorts of people who loiter in cafeterias nursing a single coffee for hours on end when the library is closed. After all, free wi-fi is more valuable than erudition these days.
Wandering around with your hard-found book, vainly seeking a librarian familiar with the ancient technology for checking it out, it is now you who looks like the weirdo, the social outcast, the ragged troglodyte with his malodorous bundle of contemptible pages.
Personally, I owe my local library $5.75 in past-due fines. Considering how Internet-centric the institution has become you'd assume I could settle-up anonymously on their newly-designed website, right? But your assumption would be incorrect. I have to go to the library in person and announce myself publicly with my wallet and cash.
God knows the only activity more shameful than borrowing old-fashioned books is having to pay money to return the embarrassing things. But I suppose someone has to cough up to keep the freeloading web-surfers connected.