Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Library Life

N.J. library patron overstays welcome; eats and reads well

The above is a story that librarians are sending to each other, about a man found camping out in N.J. library basement. The reporter takes a light-hearted approach to the story, as if the homeless man was fulfilling a dream, like a kid hiding away in a candy factory. Reading to his heart's content, and eating from the staff refrigerator, who could ask for anything more?

I can't imagine it that way. One of my friends who worked in a small public library described a similar situation to me. First, let's picture a typical basement: dimly lit, cobwebs, dusty supplies stored on sagging shelves, an old furnace. You are a librarian, going down to the basement after closing time, alone. You had heard a sound from upstairs, wondered if it was maybe a mousetrap going off.  Next to the furnace you see jars filled with murky liquid. From the shadows behind the furnace a man steps forward. He is painfully thin, hair unkempt, clothes torn and stained. Doesn't sound so cute and whimsical, told that way, does it?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Thanks, Mr. Baker

I like to watch old TV shows, like Columbo, Kojak, The Rockford Files. They take place in a world without computers, microwave ovens, GPS, and cable tv. The telephones have cords.

Don't get me wrong--I like gadgets. I have two kinds of rice cookers. (I am able to enjoy my old tv trips down Memory Lane through a streaming wi-fi connection.) But I am a cautious, reluctant adopter. I like to wait til the kinks are worked out. It might take years. I got a cell phone in 2004. I started turning it on in 2008.

So I would like to thank Nicholson Baker, for looking into the whole video game thing for me, in the August 2 edition of the New Yorker magazine. (The link takes you to a podcast of an interview with Baker, the article is not online. You can check out the magazine at the library. We have a lot of magazines you can check out: Cooking Light, People, Poetry, etc.)

I guess video games have been around for a while, but I kind of missed the boat on them, especially the home versions. I was around when video games were introduced in arcades, and I played Pac-Man, Space Invaders, Asteroids, and Robotron. When the home consoles came out, I was busy with other things. Life went it's possible to get a four year college degree in video game design. I'm not really sure what to think about that. Should we have them in the library? Circulate them? What do you think?