The Death of the Library

I visited my new library last week... and there were almost no books.

After talking to a librarian I know about this, I learned that many libraries are moving their books off site, to make room for… computers! So "library" now means "computer lab."

I think this is an absolutely horrible development. You can't spend an hour browsing through books that are in a warehouse a couple of miles away from the library. And that browsing main lead to something you never would have found in a catalog search. (In second grade I ran across the Iliad that way, and fell in love with Greek myths. If it had been stored off site my whole life might have been different.)

A true, related story: Wabulon (Walter Bloch), who used to blog here, is the son of two linguistic professors. He told me that he was in a linguistics book written by a colleague of his father, who re-told his father's story about how young Walter insisted upon grammatical regularity at a very early age. (Walter mentioned neither the author nor the title of the book involved.)

A few years later, I was wondering around the library of St. Francis College in Brooklyn. I found myself in the linguistics section, and began to browse. One book caught my eye, and so I plucked it off the shelf. I flipped open to a random page, and found myself reading: "My colleague, Professor Bloch, related to me the story of his son Walter, who at the age of three, when corrected for saying 'brung,' replied 'sing-sang-sung' -> 'bring-brang-brung'".

Sweet serendipity!


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