Unfortunately, about the only time I get to
go to a library these days is when they invite me to present
or read. And that’s sad.
I neglect libraries because I can do most of the research
I need to do at home. Using books I’ve collected over
the years that are now spilling out of shelves and onto the
floor. Using the Internet. It doesn’t take as much time
to do it that way, and I save driving time and gas.
Some libraries think they have folks like me pegged. According
to Time magazine, Arizona’s Tucson Pima Public Library
system “opened a branch without books” in 2002.
I can almost hear them thinking . . . All-digital libraries
will appeal to the new, young researcher, the new reader.
And we’ll save money because we won’t have to
store all those books (space costs money after all!). And
we won’t have to hire those many of those librarians
(who also cost money but also make the library experience
one of the main reasons I miss it!). Well, that library failed.
Now the folks at San Antonio’s Bexar County Digital
Library think the time has come again.
In a semi related story, a prominent business in Los Angeles
changed their office format. No more offices for the big guys
and gals. No more cubicles for the laborers. Open space. Sunny
windows. Lockers to stow computers in at the end of the day.
The idea is that people who are interacting with one another
tend to be more productive.
Well, here’s a bulletin for both libraries and businesses.
People who are staring at a screens don’t interact with
one another—at libraries, in offices, or anywhere else.
My husband and I were traveling. We stopped at a resort island
in the Mediterranean called Ibiza, got a sorbet, and sat in
a park to watch the locals. Two young men had come to the
park together. Unfortunately they both had smart phones. So
they sat on a centuries-old wall and watched their screens.
They may have been texting one another instead of using the
old fashioned way of communicating called vocal chords.
Of course, I realize that e-mail and Facebook are valuable.
And that people do interact there. But it’s different.
We’re losing face-to-face social skills. But we’re
losing a lot more than that. I read that a library in Virginia
was downsizing. They were selling off all books that hadn’t
been loaned in a year. Among them were a lot of Dickens
and To Kill a Mockingbird. So, it seems, we’re
also losing perspective.
So here’s my thing. Let’s fund our libraries.
Let’s take the best from both the digital world and
the world of printer’s ink. Let’s keep our old
skills even as we develop new ones. And, yes, let’s
let our libraries evolve for the new age. The library recently
rebuilt in Alexandria Egypt did a great job of updating it’s
predecessor, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. We can
do the same thing
Tips and Tidbits
(Each month in this box, Carolyn
lists a Tidbit that will help authors write or promote
better. She will also include a Tip to help readers
find a treasure among long-neglected books or a sapphire
among the newly-published.)
Wally Lamb’s We Are Water. Go for the story,
but notice technique. Especially how he treats
ungrammatical dialogue and characterization of
very unlikeable characters.
Tip for Readers' Tip:
you like military anything and have a bit of the
feminist in you, read Joyce Faulkner’s Windshift.
It’s only $3.99 on Kindle.