Saturday, May 9, 2020

Picture This

Sometimes when I set a goal for myself of writing something “significant” it then becomes almost impossible to tackle. Going with the flow of inspiration is far easier than doing one’s homework, if you will. And, if I tell myself that it has to be perfect, well, that’s the kiss of death.

And that’s how it’s going with the three posts on the library, HCC, and HCPSS during the pandemic, in case you had wondered. I’m making it way too hard for myself. I’m getting there, it’s just slow going.

I did see a photograph yesterday which brought on an odd rush of inspiration. From the Howard County Library Facebook page:

A friendly reminder to please keep materials at home until we reopen, do not put them in book drops. We are waiving fines while we're closed.

For the record, this post had 132 comments and not all of them were charitable. I personally have about ten books in my car that I borrowed for school and, since the inside of my car looks a bit like this photo (organization-wise), I’m happy to take the extension.

This photo stayed with me the rest of the day. By evening I had an epiphany: WALL-E. That’s what the library needs. Can’t you imagine that dedicated little fellow organizing and checking in all those piles of books? I’m sure he also has some disinfecting capabilities. Now picture him dutifully returning stacks of books to their proper locations. Oh, the adventures in the children’s department!

If you have seen the 2008 Disney Pixar film I’m pretty sure you’re with me at this point. If you haven’t, right now would be a really good time. Here’s a teaser. WALL-E is the last remaining operational Waste Allocation Load Lifter left behind in an uninhabitable wasteland of what is clearly a future Earth.

The library is hardly a wasteland, in fact, it is full of treasures. But right now it is a place that is not safe for us to go. With the Covid-19 virus spreading - - through human contact and remaining on items that we touch - - the library is currently as uninhabitable for us as the poisoned landscape of WALL-E’s world.

Yes, I know, the parallels aren’t perfect. Stay with me here.

Of course, if there is to be a HoCo Library WALL-E there should also be an EVE. In my scenario  EVE is not hunting for vegetation, but rather is the keeper of the essential spark of what makes our libraries central to our communities. While WALL-E puts everything to rights in the physical buildings we love, EVE carries the spirit of inquiry, learning, empowerment, and even entertainment out to us through  a myriad of online programs and services.

The building may be closed. But the information is open and free-flowing.

If you have stuck with me to this point you are either mildly entertained or you think that the quarantine has taken its toll on my sanity. Who knows? I do know that no androids, no matter how adorable, will ever take the place of the human intelligence, labor, and love that make our library system so wonderful. But a bit of whimsy never hurt anybody, especially in a time of great national crisis.

All of this is a prelude to tomorrow’s post about what the library has been up to recently. Consider this the trailer.

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