Night at LeVillage, April 2016
Night at LeVillage, April 2016
Today the library is quiet
and empty of people
except for two staff members
and me listening to Scarborough Fair with Paul Simon’s Canticle.
In this silent building of books instead
of guns, there are computers in
need of cleaning and polish.
As I listen to the pure quiet seriousness of voices and guitar
I too feel like a soldier
fighting for a cause long ago forgotten.
OR not forgotten; Simon donated his “America” to
First it was vinyl LPs making a comeback–slowly, but still…. Now it’s “monotasking,” otherwise known as “single-tasking” or just “paying attention.”
The attentive work I prefer as a librarian is reading, writing, and helping library users to use the library more effectively. Effectiveness isn’t efficiency, or Google would replace library work. (No, it hasn’t.) The complexity of a library system is too often derided because it’s misunderstood. “All these books, so confusing. How do I find something on Ernest Hemingway? I googled it but couldn’t find anything useful.” The library catalog is a system to find things and to put like things together in a more rational way than the random or popular results from an open Internet search. These operations are called classification and collocation.
Sometimes effective library use comes from retrieving articles from journal databases; sometimes it comes from browsing a book collection in hopes that ideas will come to your mind by looking at what other minds have written and published. Or you might just look at the new book display until a colorful cover catches your eye.
Browsing is much easier in traditional published books than in online files. Thomas Mann, a former private detective, LSU student, and Library of Congress reference librarian, has written about browsing as a legitimate research technique. In fact, the organization and retrieval functions of databases are modeled on old-style library searching.
Here’s a serendipitous example. A person from the maintenance staff is looking for a book he consults occasionally, “a Bob Vila kind of book,” but he doesn’t know its title and can’t explain exactly what it’s about. Hence, while I can’t look it up for him, he can browse the stacks until he sees it. Not very efficient, but he’s happy. (When he does find it, I’ll ask him to show it to me so the browsing can be made more efficient as well as effective). Eureka!
2016 is one of those years I wish I had continued to study sociology, because this spring is providing a fascinating array of display of how people behave in groups. The national Republican campaign for president is a public spectacle, more a horror show than an edifying display of politico-intellectual responsibility. The ratings are up, though, and people are entertained.
Last night’s concert in Eunice was a different kind of spectacle, a display of civic engagement where people contributed their talents to a constructive public entertainment. And boy, was it fun! Perhaps you can’t see it in this picture, but the video will show you. Thanks to Rick Nesbitt for his constructive media engagement with the public life of Eunice, and to Nancy and Harry Simon and the orchestra for its presentation of enjoyable serious music.
“Serious” music? Strauss, Schubert, Saint-Saens, and Jeremiah Clarke’s trumpet voluntary were on the program as well as can-can, Spanish dance music, and Ogden Nash. Though an amateur musician, I am as serious as Schoenberg or Scriabin. I play a violin, not well, but doggedly. My resolution for next year is to learn the music well enough to smile on stage. Last year I was squinting and frowning; this year I’m a bit more relaxed, but for 2017 I have hope and resolve.
My old grey Nikes, worn past wearing, with the pink rubber springs in the heels, had to be thrown away. Not merely discarded–the soles were so slick that anyone wearing them would have slipped.
A database search for Sonnet 18 returns hits for Milton and Sidney when I request only Shakespeare’s poem for a student.
The problem of the truth of one’s own self, as studied by Susan Howatch in her excellent Starbridge novels: guided by monks, characters resolve their own mysteries once, but continue to enact the same problems.
Escape seems quite attractive now. Santayana (quoted via Clifford Geertz by Amy Hungerford): “another world to live in…is what we mean by having a religion.” True religion is not escapism, though.
Patches of blue sky show through on a day forecast to be 90% rainy.
Anyone know how to rotate images on this platform?
Snapdragons and pansies, just reaching their peak, were ripped out of the beds in front of the library. (Later they were replaced by smaller caladiums and coleus, but still…)
–or at least here via Maggie Haberman:
“I don’t know what the hell is going on in politics,” he said.
[The Republican presidential frontrunner, quoted in Haberman’s March 21 NYTimes “First Draft” blogpost].
Yesterday in my academic-librarian researches, I discovered a blogpost called “Librarians and Tigers,” by Paul Ford. What an encouraging phrase for those of us in public service these days–much better than “Another one bites the dust.” Erika Wayne, one of the Stanford Law Librarians, is a fellow tiger, she thinks.
Join the roar, fellow tigers and friends.