Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A trip to the library to find The Road

If you have been reading a while you know that I used to read a lot of books, but now, not so much. Most of the time, I don't have the attention span required to enjoy reading books, and my eyesight isn't so good either. So I don't read that many books now.

Which isn't to say that I don't go to the library a lot. Most weeks we go at least twice, as there are several libraries to choose from, and we are nearly always near one. He still reads plenty of books, and he gets audio books for long trips. And I get the occasional book to read, and a few books that I don't read so much as flip through and look at the pictures (cookbooks, how-to books, etc...), and once in a great while I look at a magazine.

And I get a lot of DVDs. I check out tons of DVDs. I very rarely go to a video store unless I am really wanting to see a particular movie. The newly discovered Redbox has only been used about five times. But I tend to get a minimum of three DVDs per week at the library.

So while I am often at the library, I don't use the library catalog as much as I used to. Which is a good thing, since I don't like the newer programs as much.

The first program we used was just like the card catalog. You selected author, subject, or title, and then typed in something, and you were taken to what you had typed, or the closest thing to it. If you typed in Asimov, you were taken to lists of books written by people named Asimov, and you would scroll down a bit til you found Isaac, and then you would scroll down more to find the particular title you wanted. If you did not spell Asimov correctly or otherwise made a typing error, you would be taken to the nearest thing that the computer could find, and then maybe you would notice your error and correct it. If you still couldn't find what you were looking for, maybe you would have to get help from a librarian.

So that was the old program, which was very useful to people already used to the old card catalog, if you could type. It was fast. It wasn't very pretty, as it was yellow letters on a black screen. No pictures. But you could see about twenty-five titles per screen before you had to scroll down.

Then the bigger libraries got some new programs, which I found to be a bit of a headache.

These programs showed pictures of the books. But, in return for that added feature, you could only see about three titles at a time instead of twenty-five. And it took time to load all of those pictures. When they first got the new program, they didn't yet have the new computers, and it seemed to take a long time to find anything. They soon got new faster computers and all was well.

Except that if you misspelled or otherwise incorrectly typed Asimov, it didn't take you to the nearest thing. You just get a message that says no entry found. Since it is inconceivable that there are no books in the library by Isaac Asimov, you must have made a mistake. Try again. But when you are not looking for Isaac Asimov, when you are looking for a lesser known author with maybe only one or two books, then maybe you have misspelled something, or maybe the library just doesn't have any of the books you want. There is no way to know.

You have to go and bug the librarian.

Now that we have computers, we can list things under more than author, subject, and title. We can also add things like series. You can look up a list of all the Star Trek titles the library has.

The computer can now search through everything in the library with something called general keyword, which would have just been impossible with the paper card catalog. Like, if someone recommended a book to you, but you didn't write down the name, and you think that it had the word roses in it. Under general keyword, you can type in roses, and then you will get a list of everything the library has that roses in the title, and if you are patient enough, you might find your book.

Okay, so yesterday we went to the main branch of our little library. Our little library has three branches now, though one of the branches is so small that I have only been there once. And I don't use the catalog much anymore, unless I am looking for a particular title, cause I already know where the DVDs are and where the cookbooks are and so forth. I just walk around and see if anything gets my attention.

Recently, we had seen the movie The Road. The Road is a pretty depressing movie, which makes you want to go out and see a nice happy movie, like The Book of Eli. But someone had said that the book was better, and that it had a more uplifting ending, and I should read it. And I like to read books after I have seen the movie, and I like post apocalyptic stuff, so I thought that I would check out The Road, only I forgot who wrote it.

Okay, so I go to the computer and type in The Road. Only the thing seems to be stuck on general keyword search. In alphabetical order it listed six hundred and something entries with the word road. The Road, which probably would have been the first entry in a title search, was on page 35 of the general keyword search.

But I do eventually find it, and I find out the name of the author is Cormac McCarthy, which is what I need to go and look for the book on the shelf. And I see that the library has two copies, and that one is checked out and that one is checked in.

Also, it is on the adult fiction shelf instead of the science fiction shelf, but we won't get into that.

Anyway, I go and look, and I can't find it on the shelf.

Time to bug the librarian.

Maybe the second copy is in paperback or something, and I will have to look somewhere else. Or maybe it is on display. Or maybe it is still in shelving.

So the librarian tells me that their copy is checked out, but I say that I thought there were two copies and that the other one was checked in. She says that the other copy is at a different branch. But then she tells me to wait, that she'll look for one in the large print section.

For some reason, it hadn't occurred to me to look for things in the large print section. I guess that I hadn't even noticed that this particular library had a large print section. The bigger libraries have one, but rarely got anything from there. I left those books for the old people who needed them.

The librarian said that the large print edition was checked in and pointed me in the right direction. I found the book.

I read the book yesterday. I can read the book without taking off my glasses and putting my nose an inch away from the paper. I might have to start reading again on a regular basis.

The Road the book is not much different from the movie. You still don't know for sure what the catastrophe was, though you can still assume that it was a nuclear war or a big meteor. As for the supposed uplifting ending, it is the same except that the woman talks about God in the next to last paragraph.


dmarks said...

"Also, it is on the adult fiction shelf instead of the science fiction shelf, but we won't get into that."

Supposedly science fiction has no literary value, and to categorize "The Road" as science fiction would have degraded it. That's according to the mundanes who categorize these things. Cormac is a "literary" author.

It was a "quick read" wasn't it.

If you got a Kindle or something like it, you could make the text whatever size you liked.

laughingattheslut said...

As I said, we won't get into that.

That sort of thing most makes me mad when I am reading a Writer's Market type thing. "We would like to buy the next Matrix" or "We would like to buy the next Superman" is in the same paragraph with "We do not buy science fiction."

They call stuff "speculative fiction" or something like that. That is science fiction. That is the whole point of science fiction, to speculate, to wonder what if.