I had some time to kill at Oklahoma State University yesterday and there was a subject I wanted to research, one that OSU has in their archives. I’d walked past the library earlier in the day, always a beautiful sight, admiring the Christmas wreath and garlands. IMG_5764I’d been actually dreading going into this beautiful building because I have such warm memories of spending hours with the card catalogue, digging through shelves of periodicals for an article I needed for a research paper, copying notes onto index cards.  There were no copy machines or computers in those days.  You either checked out the book or did the research on site.  There was comfort in the shelves of books and periodicals, the dark wood tables and chairs.  I grew to love the search and the activity it took to find the information I needed to support my thoughts.

I knew it would be different – I’ve been in local libraries after all.  I understand the computers and having everything online and that the experience has changed.  I’m not against it, but I wasn’t quite ready to really see it in person in this building.

Approaching the building, the incredible chimes were playing the OSU alma mater, which was comforting.  I walked in the front doors…  IMG_5769…loving the brass doors.  I went through the security scanners and up the stairs with the beautiful brass handrails.  Reaching the next floor was like coming into a new century, to say the least.  There were tables and chairs and couches and lots of students with laptops.  I didn’t see any books at all.  There were some offices and a wonderful room decorated old style where students lounged and studied for finals.

I wandered around, wondering how you find anything and went back down the stairs to the lower level where there was an information desk and lots of tables with computers.  There was a space in the back of one corner where there were shelves of periodicals. Yay! Something familiar.   I realized I was supposed to find a computer, but wasn’t really sure about how this worked, so I approached the desk.

Me:  “Hi.  I haven’t been here since 1969.”

Student:  “Well, welcome back!”

She was great, turning her computer to show me the website.  I told her I had a log-in and could take it from there, so I found an empty computer and logged in.  I maneuvered around and found the information I was looking for, which I also accessed from home.  I was looking for more, but there it was.

I finished up and left.  What can you say?  I hadn’t wandered down a row of shelves or handled a book.  That was weird, at least for me.  It’s the library and I’m happy that students are in there, soaking up the information.  As I walked away, the chimes were playing “Frosty the Snowman,” which rang across campus and I passed three girls smiling with their arms around each other, singing to the music.  Their finals were over and they were probably heading home for the holidays.

It’s all good.  We’re moving ahead in our technical world.  But my memories of those long ago days in the quiet rooms of dark wood and shelves of books is still sweet.  Sigh.