October 11, 2008KR BlogUncategorized

A GPS Library Tour

I get lost.

That is, a trip to the grocery store could easily become a trip to an abandoned parking lot one town over. A voyage to my mother’s house in Georgia has become a trip to a rest area in Tennessee. Twice.

And that’s why I only got to know one library in Greensboro, NC–Jackson Library on the UNCG campus. Until a couple of days ago, it had everything I needed. Then I discovered Octavia Butler… and the terrible fact that Jackson Library does not have a copy of Fledgling.

Fortune smiles. I recently came into a GPS navigation system, and it includes a list of “Public Buildings” in Greensboro. It took four years and a talking screen to find the following places:


This branch is new, located in what used to be a strip mall. Its neighbors are a coin laundry and a dollar store. It features an entire wall devoted to “homework help,” a large section of African-American books, and an entire room for “community help.” Most–if not all–of the children playing on and waiting for the Internet were black.


This, the central branch, is located in downtown Greensboro, across the street from the Children’s Museum. It’s the A & T Homecoming Weekend, which means the soul music floating on the air outside of the library was nothing extraordinary. A couple of people waited in line at the cafe inside of the library. This library has a cheerful hum and bright, but not overbearing, lights. I found a copy of White Oleander on CD, but no Fledgling.


This library is less than a mile away from my aunt’s house–a place I’ve visited at least twice a week for the past five years. I don’t know how I missed it. Its interior features a hollowed-out tree trunk in the kids’ area and wooden rowboats floating overhead toward a cottage covered with letters.


The navigation system had a difficult time finding this one–even though it’s less than three miles away from my apartment. Here I found the Butler novel as well as a novel by a Turkish author. To save time, a patron can check out books herself, without the help of a librarian. The book return talks, and there will have a butterfly garden soon.

Before my GPS library tour, I didn’t know the literary terrain of Greensboro. I didn’t realize before that there could be so many flavors of library–that even a neighborhood’s book selection could reveal a great deal about the other resources available to its people.

It’s a new town.