Yesterday afternoon I took a leisurely walk up to the local library to do some reading for grad school. While there I decided to do some research for a project I’m just starting, and got to talking with the reference librarian. We discussed the following: how loud it is when all the kids gather ’round for story time; how there used to be a section of Washington, D.C.-related books all in one convenient place for readers until the Mean Director disbanded it; how to pronounce “Washingtoniana.”

I told her I wanted to browse the shelves to see if anything jumped out at me for use in my project, and she was in favor of doing so. As I scanned a section of shelves, call number ranges in hand, she approached with another card catalogue entry that had evolved into a piece of scrap paper.

She left me to browse, but immediately turned back to me. “Oh, and if you need help scanning, I’ll help you, just let me know.” I looked at her quizzically. She backtracked. “I see a lot of people who don’t know how to scan. They’re used to seeing the books facing out in a bookstore, and they can’t read the spines on the library shelf.”

I was appalled.

I grew up in public and school libraries. A lot has changed, but I didn’t think that much had changed.

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