CHANGES AT THE LIBRARY

There is violence in most parts of the Middle East, tornadoes sweeping across the United States and millions recovering from earthquakes in Japan so what happens at the local library does not loom as important in our scheme of life. I was raised in a slum and we did not have books in my home other than religious ones so my early life revolved around our public library. From age seven, I would trump off to the library and spend hours wandering through the shelves of books. All too often, I did not have a clue as to which book to read–my parents were immigrants and still learning English so they could not help me. Frequently, a librarian would gaze at my books, ask me questions and offer help in case what I read was confusing. I recall one occasion when this nice white haired librarian asked me: “why are you reading these books?” In the innocence of a child of immigrants, I responded: “because they begin with the letter, G.” Her face revealed confusion and she then asked: “”why are you reading books that begin with the letter, G?” And, I responded; “I began the biography section with the letter A and now I am up to the letter G.” Her face revealed surprise, then she smiled and said, “young man, the next time you come to the library I will go with you to the biography section and help you pick out a book.” And, this often happened on my subsequent visits.

Today, my library became completely automated. One checks books in and out via a machine. I no longer spend a few moments chatting with the librarian. Damn you, computer, damn you, machine, I want the librarians! Will a machine talk with a little boy? Will a machine take time with a little boy and show him interesting books? Sometimes, I hate the modern world of computers.

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