Today I needed to find a book in the library. So I went to find it. I knew we owned it. But I didn’t know its Dewey Decimal number, nor could I remember if it was filed under art history, history or mythology. But I figured I’d find it pretty easily. So I went.
Unfortunately it was Tuesday, and our librarian leaves early on Tuesdays. Fortunately one of our volunteers was there, and after my initial perusal failed to find it, I asked her how I called up the card catalog on one of the computers in the library.
She stared at me blankly. “I don’t know,” she said.
She was, to her credit, horrified that she didn’t know.
I soothed her alarm, and asked her to call it up on the librarian’s computer. It’s the core program on her computer after all. Right? Right?
“I don’t know how to do that either,” she said.
With a little puzzlement and a call to IT, we were able to get it up and running. No problem. I found my book and went on my way.
But it nags at me, a lot. Our librarian is the only one who knows how to find and access hidden books through the catalog in our collection any more. The rest of us do it so infrequently that it doesn’t matter to our learning if we know how to do it or not.
If you needed proof that paper tech is on its way out, ask yourself: do you know how to use your school’s digital catalog? Or did that slip out of your “need to know” file in the last few years?