It was a dark and stormy night at CLP Main. Suddenly, the network went down! What on earth would the patrons do?
Although this scenario reeks of Edward Bulwer Lytton (known for his easily mockable hyperbole) or Snoopy, it really happened last night at Main Library. The network went down for about two hours, leaving both staff and patrons without access to the catalog, the research databases, or the world wide web. To compensate, your cheerful team of library staff found books and information the old-fashioned way: with print resources and wetware.
Technology makes many kinds of library work easier, and I’m a huge fan of everything it can do. However, there’s also something deeply satisfying about being able to help people find what they need without a computer. In fact, it kind of makes me feel like Katharine Hepburn in Desk Set.
Based on a play by William Marchant, this classic gem features Hepburn as the archetypal reference librarian, with Spencer Tracy playing the role of the computer expert whose invention, EMERAC, threatens the reference librarians’ jobs. However, when EMERAC encounters technical difficulties, it’s Hepburn and her team who save the day. Observe:
By the end of the film, the librarians come to appreciate what technology CAN do for them, which is a good thing. After all, we don’t live in an either-or world. On a normal day at the library, you’ll always be able to find old-school and new-jack goodness. Just keep in mind that, even when technology breaks, you’ll still have options.