On my two week cruise last month to Alaska, I was quite pleased that the ship (Radiance of the Sea of Royal Caribbean) has a library. It was a small one — the pictures on their website was quite decieving. Nevertheless, I was able to find a couple of interesting reads — a book about Henry Miller written by his friend Brassai and Atonement (never saw the movie but I figured that if they made a movie about it, it must be a good read). There was a copy of Book of Negroes that I was about to recommend to the lady perusing next to me but she beat me to it. She started raving about it and I could only agree.
The biggest problem with the library, however, was their lack of children’s section. One of the mom passengers was quite disappointed (upset actually) as she did not bring books to read for her daughter — thinking that the library would be enough. She did complain about it, so hopefully, they will wise up and stock up on children books.
The most interesting fact that I noticed was that many of the passengers and crews headed to the local libraries — why, you may ask? Were they really that anxious to see the latest books in these small towns? That would be a “NO.” It’s because of free wifi. Wifi onboard was expensive and unreliable. Many of the ports of call in Alaska are small towns, there were not too many Starbucks or Blenz for free wifi. So, many of the passengers and crews Facebooked or Skyped with their families in these small libraries which were convenient enough to use (no need to put in library card numbers).
It was nice to see these small libraries adapt to the needs not only of the local population, but also of the visiting public.