Thursday, September 29, 2011

My Own Library


 I was in my bed wide awake thinking of the files that I have, stored on yahoo, Gmail or even Facebook and the wonders of it all. Technology is so amazing that checking the oldest or live news on the Internet is as easy as clicking a mouse. It is becoming the most essential tool of the day for many who rely on it as the only source of information. It is stupefying how fast one can access anything, such as the correct usage of the word stupefying, at the speed of one key per millisecond. We cannot go anywhere without a piece of technology strapped to us. We research every little thing on the Internet forgetting the feel of a page of an old book on our fingers. 

Yesterday,  a young teacher came into the classroom to talk about how easy it was to gather scientific up-to-date data from Scholar on Google. It was such an informative session and I honestly learned so much from his enthusiasm and knowledge. But he made one comment which made me question it between myself and I. He said that this kind of technology was not available to him when he was studying for his Bachelor's degree. There was little information on the Internet back then that they had to also refer to using books and magazines. He informed the students how the process of gathering information was tedious then and took such a long time, while there is a fast growing library in their backyard and can be available to them at the tips of their fingers.

While I agreed with him about the ease of finding information nowadays from documentaries and maps to translation and self-help sites in a short amount of time, I disagreed with the word 'tedious', not because I want to but because everyone had their own impression about the whole experience. I absolutely loved going into the stacks looking for my own books or magazines. Spending hours searching for the right data or piece of information was one of the few thrills of writing a  15-30 paged research term paper.  Searching for microfiche and sticking them into a machine that would enable me to discover what's on its tiny mysterious rectangles, was one of the highlights.

I did not get that chance during my Bachelor's degree, except once, to enter any stacks. At that time, due to the the blast, only the Master's students were allowed up in the tiny stack room which remained unharmed. The last term I was at Uni, I took a Master's degree course as an undergraduate. When my Professor first informed the class that we will be able to go into the stacks I rejoiced (Literally, with all its exaggerations!). The first and  following few times, I cherished every moment I had with the books,  their old yellow pages that carried years of wisdom and knowledge in their every shade and the dusty scent of generations passed.

Both my parents had built in me the love of books, how they must be respected, maintained and looked after. These lessons might have been forgotten had it not been for the day I was studying for my final IB exams and had spread my books all over the carpeted floor. My dad walked in to wish me good luck for the next day when he saw the soles of my feet resting on a stack of books. I was using them to lift my knees and cradle a book I was scrutinizing. He told me off gently for not respecting the books that contained the knowledge I was seeking.

And that my friends was that. From then on my love of books grew. And despite my addiction, gratefulness and appreciation for having a library in my backyard, being surrounded by touchable books, connected to their earthiness and caressed by their pages.... beats all that.

Any thoughts!!


paula devi said...

Books have always been my refuge and safe place. I learned to read before I was 5 years old and since then my constant and most trustworthy companians have been my books. Your father was so right about what he said. Books are living, sacred things.
As for the young teacher - well, he speaks for many of his generation. Sad. Research is verbal archeology - dig, dig, dig - and when you find your treasure you are grateful for the journey and what you've discovered becomes more precious because of all the work put in. Sad he thinks that tedious. How much we learn aong the way to the piece we need.

I hope my grandchildren will also be graced by the intimate feel of a book in their hands and the careful turning of pages.

Tabouleh said...

So true Paula... and I wish that my children will also have the privilege of looking through an old book in search of answers and enjoyment.