Sunday, April 23, 2017

Libraries

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. 

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