Monday, November 22, 2010

Reading habit

"Sound this word out" the teacher pointed at the blackboard pointedly. 
"Dog" the little girl read.
"You didn't sound it out first," bad habits are so hard to break the teacher concluded inwardly.
"I don't know how to sound it out. I know what the word says so I read it," responds baffled girl.
"Then you don't know how to read." The teacher sniffed and moved on to explain the method of Phonics. 

The child learned the mysteries of Phonics but she also knew that she had known how to read all along, that it was merely the sillyness (she didn't yet know what narrow-mindedness was) of the teacher that made her think that only her way was reading. So the girl learned phonics... 

and she learned to love to read in spite of the teacher's belittling gaze. And one day she volunteered to help in the school library where she shelved the books and gazed over the wondrous titles that were kept there. She learned the Dewey Decimal system and she even made spine labels for her own little library at home. (organization is important, damn it!)
So that when she grew up and needed a job, it seemed natural that she would look for a job at the library. But she never expected to work at the Big City Library. And when she first laid eyes on the library it hardly seemed like a library with it's marble floors and oak desks, and nary a book to be seen. 

If you turned the right corner you might find a helpful soul to tell you where the books are...

And you might spot a person put a book in a slot here. Although at first she thought the people were simply kept in cages to model Work but after some moments, it was shown to be a return machine. But this machine meant that fewer people were needed (of course!) and the woman wonders if she will get a job here after all. The machine returns the books so they can cut the cost of the library further and eliminate jobs. Seems like a good thing at first - except she learns later that most of the time if people's books are not returned properly it is computer error not people error. 

As she tours the building there is a crowd of people whom she guesses are customers but none of them have books... they are staring at computers! and there are no books on the floor by the computers, just table after table of computers. Jobs are found on computers these days and the public needs jobs but what is it that they do here? she wonders. 

More wandering, she finds places she cannot enter because they are doing construction because the library is now 15 years old, and apparently it now needs a makeover! Maybe there are more machines for this part of the library. There are fewer books, she feels sure.   

At the end of the day, she leaves the library and looks back at the tall brick building. The architect had 
designed a building that would be sure to impress and astound...  
But she wonders if anyone gave any thought to less ostentatiousness, less boldness, less gaudiness...
and any consideration at all to what a building that held books for booklovers would look like?


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