Many libraries and library systems have developed wish lists so that members of the public who would like to help their favorite library can contribute books, DVDs, or other badly-needed materials.  I find the idea both admirable and tragic — admirable because it’s a great idea for the public to be able to contribute exactly what we need, but tragic because these are things that we SHOULD be able to afford.  And while I’m at it, it’s also tragic because buying extra DVDs for a library that needs them because the nonexistent security system has made it all too easy for thieves to walk out with popular materials … well, that’s just throwing good money after bad, isn’t it?

However, I am proposing that if we just thought outside the box a little, perhaps our patrons could contribute other items to their local libraries instead, items that would have a more profound and long-lasting effect.  Here are a few ideas that occurred to me while I was at work yesterday, based on things that would improve the quality of life at my library:

  • 8-foot light bulbs.  The electrical maintenance guy fixed our broken light fixtures recently, but said that he couldn’t replace the bulbs because there weren’t any left in the building.  So we mentioned it to our custodian, who told us that he ordered replacement 8-foot bulbs MONTHS ago, but that his supervisor told him that THERE WEREN’T ANY LEFT.  And so we are continuing to serve our patrons in semi-darkness.  I’m waiting to see if mining helmets or candles are next on the agenda.
  • Paper towels and toilet paper.  We receive a fraction of the amount that we order.  Just imagine what it would be like to use a toxic, graffiti-covered public bathroom and THEN to find out that there’s not enough toilet paper!
  • A heating and cooling system that works properly on every floor of the building.  By which I mean that it would take into account that heat rises and cold air sinks, so that if the system was working properly we would not be sweating on the top floor and shivering in the basement.  And on a related note, we could also use some …
  • Cardigan sweaters.  Preferably stylish ones.  Because not enough of us have that “Fred Rogers” look while we’re serving the public.  And while they might make us look a little nerdy, at least they stop us from shivering visibly enough that the patrons ask us if we’re okay.

Other suggestions are certainly welcome.  We can dream, can’t we???