I have had my eyes on those Nook e-readers since they hit the market. The ability to “haul” around multiple books in one handy little gadget is very enticing. However, on principle, I decided to do without this wonderful device. (I also still pay my bills through the post office). Besides the enjoyment I get from holding an actual book, technological advances, such as the B&N Nook, have me a little concerned. It’s not that I’m worried about technology replacing libraries altogether (although I have heard that concern from customers); but the scariest thing about our rapid advancement in this tech era (for me, anyway) is that we are forgetting why we want technology in the first place. Some of my friends on Facebook have thousands of “friends”, but do any of them come over to cheer you up with a homemade dinner, or remember your birthday without the friendly Facebook reminder? Maybe they do, but my point here is that we have to remember what a “friend” really is. Technology is an aid to help us conveniently stay in touch with our loved ones, but it is in no way a replacement for actual face-to-face time. (My mom is constantly reminding me of this). Okay, now that I have explained some of the roots of my technophobia, let me proceed with an unexpected nod to Skype.
We have a family that frequents our library. They have, I believe, ten children, ages 5-25. One of their older boys is away in California, and the other day was his birthday. The father had come up to the desk and asked us for help installing Skype on his lap top. Our PSA II and I quickly showed him how to sign up and he walked away in awe at how simple it was. Shortly after, I heard “Happy Birthday” being sung in unison from our meeting room. I looked over to see the mom and dad and four of the siblings gathered around the lap top, singing! With closer inspection, I was able to see their son’s smiling face on the screen and even wish him a “happy birthday” myself. I was so thrilled to see this family “gathering” and had to nod in approval at this clever application of technology. The library remains a center for people, ideas, and culture; a place where families can congregate, even if it means using our high-speed Wifi to do so. His mom’s only complaint was that she wasn’t able to hug him through the computer.