Daily Archives: 10/14/2002

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I had this crazy idea to renew my library card at the Guam Public Library yesterday. As always, the pathetic state of the library is enough to elicit tears. I used to have a library card, though I lost it several years ago. Something compelled me to stop off and get a new card. I walked inside and immediately smelled the familiar musty smell inherent it that building. No librarian was on duty at the front desk, which I found curious. I ventured upstairs to the reference desk and found nobody staffing there either. I assumed they were on break, so I just headed into the paltry stacks looking for Pale Fire, the book I wanted to check out. It wasn’t there, but I picked up a worn hardcover copy of Nabakov’s Dozen and gasped when the pages just fell out of the cover onto the floor. Every book in that library is in a similar state of distress. I think they all date from about 1955 to 1960, probably the last time the library had a budget to acquire books. I wandered to the periodicals section and looked at the magazines, none of which were current issues.I wandered back to the front desk after about 20 minutes and discovered no librarian had appeared. I left without my library card, but with a grim sense of the impending doom that faces this island. The library has been treated like a red-headed stepchild by each successive administration on Guam, and the neglect truly shows. The building is decrepit, the books are crumbling, the magazines are out of date, and the staffing is non-existent. Five one-room branch libraries exist in various villages around Guam, but those are in even worse condition. At this point it would probably make more sense to consolidate all collections and staff at the main library in Hag�t�a. The library is dying a slow death right now, and spreading the sparse collections and staff to man far flung branch offices is not a good solution.