Category Archives: library

Watch Out for the F’ers

The Internet makes all other sources of  information irrelevant. Newspapers are too slow and expensive. Libraries are archaic, also too expensive and slow. Bookstores are dying. Anyway they all provide way more information than we really need. We just need a piece here, a quote there, nothing like the  sustained pieces of writing found in these places.

The only information we need is Fast and Free. Everyone is a writer. Everyone is a commodity and is forced to view commodities across the screen. News spreads faster than fire. News and information riddled with mistakes because it is Fast and Free and that is all that matters. Gross errors become truth or at least cast a shadow over the reality. We crave the attention of search engines.

I am leery of the calls to shut down the old-fashioned ways we find our information. Do this and humanity is fully controlled by governments, corporations, and well-organized  groups.

The information they want you to have is all that you can get. Each Internet search is custom geared to you and what others want you to know. Those with the most money and power get out their message and obscure other messages.

I know people are being groomed to no longer be capable of reading sustained essays or pieces of literature. Who has the time? I guess Candy Crush does win out. All we want are bits and bytes of info, well reviewed by others to highlight what we think we want to know or what others want us to know.

Think about the danger an out-of-control reading person may pose to those that support the F’ers. Anonymous reading is a threat. If you buy a newspaper, no one tracks your eyes online. If you enter a library or bookstore and read a book that is not attached to online scrutiny, your brain is free. You may stumble outside the appropriate point-of-view geared for your consumption by others.

Of course still peruse the Internet. See what’s out there, some of it is very useful. But realize that it is highly manipulated. Think about what you are giving up when you give up control to your sources of news and information. Yes, I know it’s hard to examine vastly different points of view from your own. But it stretches your gray cells and keeps you free. Or is freedom also an archaic concept?

The library may become the last place to go wild.


A 21st Century Hermit

I regret that I live in the time of social media.

Not that I avoid the Internet. I do read Internet articles. Although I regret that I have commented on some of those articles. Now I try to keep the comment section closed. That has failed a few times, but at least recently I have refrained from leaving my own comments there.

With Twitter, I began to hate myself and some other people on that site. So I left abruptly. No regrets.

Sometimes I forget that this blog is social media. As I said, it’s mostly for me. I vacillate between boredom, ambiguity, and enthusiasm on these pages.

I don’t dislike the Internet. Every day I go there to look up answers to questions. When did Kurt Vonnegut die? April 11, 2007. When was William Shatner born? March 22, 1931. (Exactly four days before Leonard Nimoy was born.) Sadly, Nimoy just died earlier this year. Thanks for the info Internet.

But sometimes I visit the Internet and stay there in a daze. If ever there would be an opiate of the people, this is it. How many times have I clicked on the weather forecast and strayed to a dozen silly websites and then onto a game of Mahjongg? Let me count the wasted hours.

To maintain my anti-social stance, I will read more books. Real books. Ones that don’t track my reading style nor leave tracks of subliminal messages on my screen (my paranoia is justified, I’m only as crazy as the 21st century makes me). An hour of reading my book is a joy and equals a zero waste of time. I hope the libraries and bookstores don’t shut down before I die. Hell, I may be part of the last generation with this outdated preference.

My social life suffers because of my attitude. I have removed texting ability from my ancient phone. People seem to have a hard time figuring out how to communicate with me. No one calls anyone anymore or wants to leave a voice message. No matter, I may not check my messages for a day or two anyway. So far I have no desire to join Facebook. From what I hear, it can be a mega time-wasting enterprise.

My friends are fictional rather than virtual. I would rather travel in a book than in the real world.

Let me dig up my pencil and paper. Where is that old manual typewriter?  With pen in hand, I’m ready to read and mark up that old book. Excuse me while I step back into the 19th century. Middlemarch is waiting. To make matters worse, this is the second time that I read that tome. I love my social circle.

Libraries Saved My Life Or Why Kindle Won’t Do

When I was growing up, I found refuge in a library. Home was often chaos, and a walk or a bus ride to a library saved me. I escaped to the library building and within the covers of each book I checked out.

I discovered all sorts of books by accident as I wandered the aisles of shelves. I could pull down and examine any number of books at my leisure and take them home for free. Good deal since I had more curiosity than money.

I discovered different cultures. At home, the only place I found culture was on a carton of buttermilk.

One time, I found “The Source” by James Michener and I thought I found the most profound book ever written. Later on, when I found “The Master and Margarita” by Mikhail Bulgakov, I began to scratch the surface of a world of truly great books out there.

The library arranged books in nice, organized  rows on identical shelves. Unlike home where stuff was strewn all over and never put away.

I loved the quiet in a library. Home had loud, senseless drama.

An e-reader has no shelves to wander around. It has no walls, no chairs, no tables. It has no spines to glance at as I meander.  It has no old or new paper smell, nor atmosphere. It is no place.

Even if e-readers existed back when I was young, I would not have been able to afford one. I wish people would wake up to the power of knowledge that a free library offers to even the poorest person. It’s not boring, it’s freeing.

So many people question the value of a library building today.  There is no question in my mind that value exists within those walls. I still go and find gems. I don’t always know what I’m looking for. Sometimes it finds me instead.

The pleasure, knowledge, and peace I have found inside a library will keep me one of its biggest fans. My kind is rare today, I hope I don’t become the last card-carrying member.

Titanic Failure

I’m the last person in the world! . . that hasn’t seen the James Cameron film Titanic.

Or so I felt after I got back from the Titanic artifact exhibition at the Henry Ford Museum in Michigan. While viewing the exhibit, a docent commented that the first, second, and third class passengers were segregated on the ship. The levels of the ship that housed each ticket class were locked off by gates and staircases that would not allow the passengers to mix with each other during the voyage. So Rose and Jack would never have got together on the real ship in 1912.

It clicked in my head that Rose and Jack must be the characters in the movie played by Kate Winslet and Leonardo DeCaprio. And that the docent just assumed that everyone must have seen the 1997 movie.

Would I have shocked the tour guide if I told him that I never saw the movie? Has anyone else out there not seen Titanic?

Cameron’s Avatar and Titanic are the top two worldwide grossing films of all time. This shows a severe lack of cultural reference on my part. Yet I find the drama and tragedy of the real 1912 event is enough for me to imagine.

But to redeem myself, I did see Avatar. Although the way I saw it may not even count. I checked it out on a DVD from my local library a few months ago and watched it on a bulky, 25-inch, picture-tube television, circa 1995. No HD, no 3D, maybe not worth watching.

I’ve got to get myself into the 21st century. Or have I already missed the boat?

My Sacred Cow

Government spending could use a buzz cut. The next time I hear about federal funds providing a grant to study shrimp on treadmills, I may run screaming down the street. Federal money gets thrown around just so money can get spent. Is this the way we really want to stimulate the economy? Do something that matters.

Instead, throw that money at the libraries.

I ran across an article in a newspaper about the Geek the Library program. Then I found out more about it online –

This website brings together people that value the library, encourages them to express why they value it, and asks them to pass on the message.

The world’s in an economic mess. Library funding is often on the cutting board. A nearby county library did close due to budget cuts. Libraries are fighting for their lives.

A large, well-regarded library by me nearly closed down due to cuts in funding. At the last moment before closing, a community movement succeeded to keep it open.

This might be where the Geek the Library program comes in.

This program highlights the incredible benefits libraries offer to society:

  • See how much money a family can save by borrowing material from a library instead of buying the items.
  • Think outside the book (although books are a big enough draw for me to go there). Libraries house DVDs, music CDs, audiobooks, and free computers to write letters or search online. You can even get a pass to go to a museum.
  • Discover the job search resources. Ironically, the worse the economy gets, the more people use the library. People research companies on the Internet, write resumes, and email them out.

Personally, I love to go just to wander about the shelves. I discover books that I have never heard of or books that I forgot about wanting to read.

If I had to choose the lesser of two evils, I would sooner cut funding to public schools than libraries. Schools need an overhaul so that they work for all children before more money gets thrown at them.

The library is a terrific basis for self education. Empower yourself. A library is a true leveler of society; only death can do better.

Maintaining libraries is not a waste; it can only improve society. Let the shrimp buy a health club membership.

I Geek Isabel Allende, Emily Dickinson, Herman Melville, Chinua Achebe, Carson McCullers, Jane Austen, Toni Morrison, D.H. Lawrence, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Robert Pirsig, Muriel Barbery, Thornton Wilder, and others (some undiscovered yet by me).