Magazine article Computers in Libraries

Technology Isn't as Real as It Used to Be

Magazine article Computers in Libraries

Technology Isn't as Real as It Used to Be

Article excerpt

Michael Schuyler is the systems librarian for the Kitsap Regional Library System in Bremerton, Washington. His email address is michael@krl.org.

Lament of the Systems Librarian

by Carol Schuyler

The Library is my employer; I shall not want. It maketh me to sit in cold Board Rooms: it leadeth me beside computer terminals. It provoketh my brain: it leadeth me in the policies and procedures for its name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the morass of Dial-in users, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy wand and thy keyboard they comfort me. Thou preparest a desk before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with toner; my voice mail runneth over. Surely challenges and hurdles shall follow me all the days of my job: and I will work in a branch of the Library forever.

Poor Carol. Sometimes I think she has led a deprived life. This is the first house where she has enjoyed either a garage door opener or a dishwasher. She did succumb to a microwave a couple of years before I met her. In her last house she had no central heating and instead heated the entire house with the wood stove in the kitchen, the only stove in the kitchen.

This was supplemented by a greenhouse along nearly the entire southern side. A complex baffle system took the hot air from the top of the greenhouse underneath the floorboards where the air swept passed plastic gallon milk jugs filled with water. The theory was that this would heat the house from underneath. The water in the milk jugs would retain the heat and give it off slowly after the sun went down. This was the brainchild of our mutual friend and contractor Terry Pratt. who thought this was the coolest way to heat a house.

This turned out to be literally correct because after the first season the milk jugs turned green with algae. which gave off enough gas to explode the airtight jugs. The water soaked the insulation beneath the house and it all had to be replaced.

The Numerous Conveniences of Electricity

With several billion 100-foot fir trees and a lot of wind up here in the Top Left Corner, the power goes off quite regularly. Despite the ordeals described above. Carol was very smug about this since if the power did go out, she didn't really care. She put up a few cords of wood in the fall and sneered at the techno-Yups who were so dependent on electricity. Since I've occasionally fallen victim to this, I am not particularly apologetic in telling you that Carol has quickly gotten used to modern conveniences such as hot water.

One time the power did go out during the night here at the Smurf House, but for some reason we both felt compelled to go to work in the big city where they've cut down all the trees and are much more likely to have power. Carol asked me how to get the cars out of the garage without driving through the doors. I said, "Just pull that red cord dangling from the middle." This releases the chain-drive from the motor and allows you to lift the door manually. It took Carol an awfully long time before she re-appeared.

"It didn't work," she complained, obviously distressed

"What didn't work?" I asked, quite puzzled.

"Well, you told me to pull the red cord and nothing happened."

Moses, our cocker spaniel, became very agitated because he wondered why his Mommy was so upset and why his Daddy was laughing so uncontrollably. I was finally able to blurt out "There's no electricity!" in a high-pitched voice before laughing again. She stomped out to raise the heavy double door by hand, which, given her state of mind, she did quite easily.

The Numerous Conveniences of Technology

I suppose we could travel in many directions from here, but let's take this one: although we are dependent on technology, we really don't know how it works. I have lamented in the past the reduction in knowledge of our LinkNet users over the years. …

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