It might be interesting to try weaving the commentary from today into the narrative of tomorrow. Let’s see how this works…
Sunday, July 29, 2012
The Happenin’ Library
Nancy P asked about the situation at the local library. I’ll have to say, I’ve dropped by on those evenings that I commute to work, and it’s turned into The Happening Place.
Sure, they have the same power issues everyone else does, but that’s actually working in their favor. With the TV out of commission for long stretches of the day, kids are going outside during the day and reading at night (using wind-up flashlights if necessary). If it’s raining, they stay inside and read. So there’s been a lot of volunteer work going into the library lately. Somebody even gave them a generator, and the regulars often kick in some gasoline to keep it (and the lights and computers) running.
The A/C is off most of the time, of course, but people are already getting used to that. Still, I’ve heard there’s been some jostling to get a seat close to a fan. Our library also has an outdoor deck, and they’ve put up tarps and poles to shade it on sunny days. If there’s any breeze, it’s another popular spot.
People in town just come by with their kids as soon as their power goes out. Sometimes, they get really lucky and the library still has power. But however it works out, people catch up on news, books, and each other. The staff shows kids’ videos from the stacks in one of the conference rooms when they can. After a while, people start expecting to see each other, and now the library (or the lobby or standing outside) is becoming the hub for local news and gossip too. The staff is raising a little money by selling coffee — serves the chains right for parking their shops in the retail district instead of putting one downtown. They’d kill for the kind of traffic the library is getting now.
The Internet access is pretty reliable there. They’ve put up a couple more wireless hubs to handle all the people bringing laptops… they have the PCs in the carrels, but there’s usually a line and time limits. I’ve started spending a little time there in the evenings myself, because our DSL has gotten so flaky… I guess the power outages are starting to affect the phone system as well as cable. I’m posting from the library tonight, by the by. You have to assume that the frequent outages are starting to take its toll on server farms as well. If you haven’t already backed up anything you have online, you might want to do that. Printing it out would be a good idea too.
So in a world where most retail businesses have gone to shorter hours, the library is extending theirs. I wonder of the arts council has given it any thought — they could start some writing workshops and we could all get some new, local, reading material.