Friday, July 31, 2015
Are You Truly a Library?
Went to the American Center Library to look up what they have on Jack Kerouac. A large, empty room filled with viewers and TV buzz and persons in frameless glasses, who look up up and ask, "Who? Never heard of him. Will you please use our deck?" One pointed to a keyboard. I did not know how to use it. It was a computer of some sort. With ill grace and an unbelieving expression she pecked out after again asking, K/E/R/O/A/C. Pushed a button. Machine clicked. Nothing.
"We have nothing," she said. "You do not seem seem to have any books at all," I mildly remarked. "Would you care to see our magazine file?" "Can you really see it, or do you conjure that up too from buttons?" I asked, now revealing nastiness. She narrowed her eyes in irritation. "Are you truly a library?" I pursued. "Yes, we call ourselves a library," she said. "You are wrong," I said. "You are a database."
I do not know what a database is, but my chagrin and rage at finding out what had happened to what was once a perfectly good library was not immediately to be denied. Storming out was OK, but it still left me with my Kerouac problem. One which became even more complicated when I returned home and discovered that I had spelled the writer's name wrong. There is a U in Kerouac which I had left out. The computer, not being able to make allowances, could not find him, even if he was there, lying in the dark. Shall I go back? I think not.
A friend writes:
The last public library I set foot in was in Inverness and I was shocked by how few books were on display, anachronistic encumbrances, it seemed, in what was fast becoming a community-centre-cum-cyber-café. A lot of the books I buy second-hand through Amazon bear the ugly stamp DISCARD or WITHDRAWN and I think of some thin-lipped little Hitler of a librarian stamping them not in sorrow but with relish, aiding and abetting the cultural suicide of the community out of whose public funds the book had been bought in the first place.