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Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Creepy Library Experience

I assume my local library is much the same as yours.  Gradually, but especially over the last two years, I've watched the number of staff and desk spaces shrink.  It used to be that when you entered the library, the entire front area was filled with a bullpen area where staff issued cards, received fine payments, and helped you when you had problems checking out books.

That area has been totally stripped out now and replaced by half a dozen kiosks where people check themselves out.  There are a few staff now moved to the near-center of the floor, sandwiched between the audio/video section and the used books for sale section.

But overshadowing all of that on the first floor of my library are banks of computers.  Lots and lots of computers that have spread out across the main floor like an oil spill.

And every one of those chairs has a person in them, staring at that computer screen.

Now I'm the first to admit, I'm glued to my computer a lot of the time too. I use it for email, for my writing, my research, to keep in touch with folks, buy stuff, and just about everything else.

But yesterday, as I was walking past the tons of computers to look for a James Scott Bell book, I was creeped out. 


I walked past a sea of blank faces, staring at their computer screens, totally oblivious to anything else going on around them.  Has the movie Wall-e already arrived?  It felt like it.  There's just something so creepy about seeing a mass of people staring at a computer.  So Alfred Hitchcock-ish.  It was like I was living in a city full of zombies.

There must be a book in this somewhere.

Of course this image isn't going to change, unless the first floor of my library eventually has the books removed from it altogether to make space for more computers and more zombies.

I love technology.  I really do.  I love my laptop.  I love my Kindle. But by the same token seeing visually how dependent we are as a people on technology makes me feel completely vulnerable.  It's unsettling.

I just need to remember that the Lord of all Creation is also the master of all technology.

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