I have an affinity for libraries. I married a librarian. I own a card catalog.
|I even built the stand.|
You don't know what a card catalog is? Oh good grief.
For centuries, you found a book in a library by looking through drawers of little cards with the titles printed on them. I grew up in a city with one of the first libraries to use a computer instead of a card catalog.
I remember I was surprised when I saw a giant IBM-PC sitting in the middle of the nonfiction section. I went over and did a search on the first (and let's face it, only) thing that crossed my mind: SEX.
Nothing happened. This was in the days before graphical user interfaces. If you did anything wrong, if you mistyped a single character, you'd have to start again from scratch.
|I shall tell you of this SEX, pimply human.|
Seeing my consternation, a librarian came over and loudly declared: "SEX? THAT'S A POPULAR TOPIC THESE DAYS. I CAN HELP YOU FIND SEX. LET ME PRESS THE SEX KEYS. HERE, NOW YOU'RE LOOKING AT SEX. I HOPE I HELPED YOU FIND ALL THE SEX IN THE LIBRARY."
Hundreds of books scrolled down the screen. Several minutes later, I figured out the key combination for "For the love of God, please turn this off."
A few minutes later: "HEY, YOU TURNED OFF A LISTING OF ALL THE BOOKS IN THE LIBRARY THAT ARE ABOUT SEX. DID YOU FIND THE SEX YOU WERE LOOKING FOR?"
I didn't go into a library again until I graduated high school. My father took me from college to college so we could choose one for me.
In the 80s, college tours always included a trip to see the library. Back then, the internet was just six computers hooked together with wires and geek semen; if you wanted to do a research paper, you'd have to hit the library.
But how do you know if a library was good or not? They all looked like big buildings filled with books. I asked my father how he could tell if a library was good. He walked to the nearest computer and typed in: SEX.
Just kidding. He typed in his own last name: KAGLE. Three books appeared: two of his and one of my mom's.
He smiled. "Not a bad library. A great library would have had four or five. Three is okay."
Ever since that day, when I went into a new library I would search for my last name. I almost never found anything.
As I write this, I'm sitting in the Los Altos library, where I just did this test. Okay, I typed in SEX first, but KAGLE came next. None of my fathers' books came up, nor my mothers' but MINE DID.
|Here it is on the "Nobel Prize for Literature" shelf|
They have all my books.
|Actually, no you didn't buy it with tax funds. I donated it.|
Not a bad library.