Two weeks ago, I was doing some planning for my upcoming unit on The Outsiders. I was online perusing our local public library’s website and looking for the audiobook version of the book. The CD was on hold and I was like number 40 in line, so I gave up on that. Then I saw that they had an Mp3 version of it. I was impressed. Our library is pretty hip in that they also have Kindle and Nook versions of hundreds of books that you can check out for free. I have a few on hold. So I proceeded to put myself in line to hold the Mp3 version of the audiobook. Not sure why you need to hold a digital version, but whatever.
After I clicked the buttons, I got kind of sad and nostalgic. Books… they’re going digital… Will that mean the end of libraries? They have already closed many of them and cut back their hours of operation because they can’t afford to run them. Technology is cool and all, but I want to pass on my love of books to Ella. How can I do that with a Kindle? To me, it just isn’t the same.
Some of my earliest memories from childhood include books (that’s me above, circa 1979). When I was pre-school aged, I remember getting very upset with a little girl in our apartment complex in New Jersey. I loaned her my book and when she returned it the pages had been colored on. That was also my first memory of getting pissed off! I remember being in kindergarten or first grade and getting my first library card. They were made of paper back then, and I guarded that thing with my life. Our mom would take us to the neighborhood library once a week and we’d go nuts checking out books. I kind of remember that library too… it was kind of dark inside, brick exterior and I think it used to be a firehouse or something.
I did all my research projects and wrote papers at the library. I remember using their typewriters because we didn’t have one at home. Our mom used to check out all sorts of VHS movies from the library, and we used to think that she was so lame. They weren’t new releases. They were movies like My Left Foot or Out of Africa. What tweens were watching those movies?! Oh yeah, us. I fell in love with books like Flowers in the Attic and the Sweet Valley High series. Then I was introduced to Stephen King and that began my love affair with horror.
Then, in college it was more of the same. The library at CU Boulder was amazing. It had shelves that were 12 feet high and stacked to the max with books. I used to take naps in the library during my off time in between classes. They had these egg-shaped desk things that were perfect for private napping. I was tired back then. In college I checked out massive amounts of Chicano and adolescent literature. All this talk brings me back to the more youthful, idealistic, and wrinkle-free me…ahhh. Anyway, I digress.
These memories will stay with me my entire life. Books and libraries are part of me and have made me who I am. With the advances in technology, will Ella have the same? There are some authors now that only create electronic books and their stories are never printed with ink. Browsing the shelves for just the right book, cracking it open, smelling the pages and seeing the beautiful illustrations was comforting to me as a child. It was magical. It still kind of is. I feel like an old lady sometimes–like I’m stuck in the past and afraid of the future. I have very few things from my childhood that I still hang on to. I know that she will have her own memories and experiences that will be uniquely hers. But I wonder if technology will take away the magic…
Am I just crazy?