The library of the past

This morning on NPR I heard a segment about Sandra Cisneros, an author, discussing her use of language and what influenced her style. What I found so interesting was how she remembered visiting the Chicago Public Library as a child and looking in the card catalog. She saw that some of the cards were more dirty and dog-eared than others, and she wanted to read those books, because they must be great, important ones. From there it was only a quick jump to wanting to write her own books, books that would have their own dirty, dog-eared cards.

That made me kind of sad, because we just don’t live in that world anymore. I’m not bemoaning technology, because as a librarian I am incredibly thankful for computers and boolean searches and OCLC. But, when the catalog is on a computer, we can miss out on the human aspect of accessing information, or the serendipity of flipping through the card catalog and running across exactly what you need. We might be more exact, and it is certainly easier, but it is also more impersonal.

There’s a journal on my desk entitled “Books to Check Out.” I keep a list of stuff I would like to read in there, jotting down titles or authors as I come across them. The cover looks like the inside of an old library book, with all the due date stamps. We don’t do that anymore, either. It’s not really good for the books. My university did it, though, and I remember the fun of checking out a book that hadn’t been checked out since the 60s. I guess that’s another human aspect that has faded away.

Enough reminiscing about the past. Since I’m already talking about the library, this seems like a good time to give a job update. I have now been at my job six months(!!!), and I had my review at the end of last week. It was a good review, and very encouraging (and now I can use vacation time! yay!). Not only that, but I was discussing some of the changes I’ve made on the website with one of my coworkers, and she said, “I’m so glad you’re here.” It is nice to work in an encouraging, affirming environment. I am glad I like my job. It was a long, hard road to get here, but I am thankful to see how it has all worked out.

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  1. By unbillable hours on 5/3/2004 at

    On The Library of the Past
    This morning on NPR I heard a segment about Sandra Cisneros, an author, discussing her use of language and what influenced her style. What I found so interesting was how she remembered visiting the Chicago Public Library as a child

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