You sound like Jim Qwilleran,out there in Moosejaw! : - )
Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]> wrote: Here's an example of where libraries are still very useful, for now.
I work in Bedford Hills, NY. On nice days, I like to put on my iPod and take a brisk walk around
town at lunchtime. I like to look around at the old houses and once in a while notice something
interesting, one being a horse trough with a memorial inscription in a stone wall that surrounds a
church. Now, where else except the Bedford Hills library am I likely to find out the story behind
that memorial? Turns out they have a whole Bedford/Bedford Hills/Westchester County area with a nice
little table on which to read the books. Most of these books and documents are one-offs and don't
circulate. The librarian was so excited that someone wanted to learn something about the little
hamlet that she helped me zero in on the info in just a few minutes. It's an interesting story of
robbery foiled and an upstanding citizen murdered but I forgot the exact details so don't want to do
any myth-making here.
Point is, no place but the Bedford Hills library is going to have that info. This whole idea of "all
information being online" is only true to a point. I find that there is a lot of common knowledge
easily accessible online, and a whole sewer/slum of myths, rumors and garbage (I had to do massive
corrections to a few entries on Whacky Packia, so I do not trust anything there or on anything like
it) and some obscure academic materials. But I am dismayed about what's NOT up there. Stuff like
local news (except what's in the local crapola Gannett newspaper), local history. There are vast
holes in historic audio and documents (part of this is the seeming obsession by some collection
holders to just, well, hold on to things instead of make things available to us unwashed masses -- I
can cite MANY museums, libraries and academic archives; all I can figure is that it's a power thing:
"I and only I hold this material and you'll only use it on my very restrictive terms").
Another library example that just popped into my mind is the downstairs of the Saranac Lake
library -- a huge collection of all things Adirondacks. I've spent several rainy days in there,
-- Tom Fine
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