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Thursday, January 3

dewey would flip a decimal

I actually love the way libraries work now. When I hear about a book that sounds interesting, I log into my account, request the book and my branch emails me when they have retrieved it for me. If I don't want to wait a couple of days for that, I can see which libraries have the desired book on their shelves and I can do the work myself.

Today I went to pick up 2 books that I had requested. I scanned my card at the self service kiosk, put the 2 books on the desk, the computer scrolled out the titles, I pushed the button for email receipt and I was on my way.

Before I go any further, let me say that I love most technology. I own almost everything Apple has come up with in the last 20 years. Their products intrigue me. But for some reason, today I got nostalgic.

I had a flash of memory. The little envelope on the back cover, the card with all the stamped dates on it, the friendly (usually) librarian adding a new date on the card and sliding it into the envelope, handing the book to you. When I was a kid, I liked to think about the people all these dates represented and wonder what books they had taken out. Some of the dates went way back. Like 5 years! and it seemed like ancient history to me.

Now there is no connection to the patrons that came before you. The book is clean, free of history. Every once in a while something falls out from between the pages. A receipt from the drugstore. If you're lucky there is a note written on the back. Or a ticket stub. Once I was gifted with a postcard from Denmark. They were having a great time, the place was amazing but they missed home.

I love my library, but it has become a cold place. There used to be people behind the desk that knew me, that would ask how I was. Now it is sort of like going to the drive through car wash.  In and out in record time, little or no human contact.

But at least there are still books. Standing there waiting for you. Some of them with yellowed pages, some still smelling of printer's ink. All of them holding something you didn't know before. I wonder how long libraries will exist now. How long before we only read books on a glowing screen and the simple pleasure of holding a book and turning the pages goes the way of the little stamped cards?

This may explain why I love making books. I watch people pick them up, cradle the spine, fan the pages, run a hand over the cover, smile. It is almost sensual.

It's the least I can do :)

1 comment:

Joanne Noragon said...

The library is the hub of our little town and plenty of chit chat passes the desk while the books are scanned. I do miss browsing the card catalog.