A colleague of mine posted a link to a YouTube video interview with Pulitzer Prize-winning author David McCullough, author of a new book about the Wright Brothers, in which he talks about the importance of libraries and librarians on his career and his work.
Of special interest is a story he tells starting at the 18 second mark about “library shoes.” I do not have a story of my own about “library shoes” to share, but I do remember visiting the Decatur (Indiana) Public Library as a young boy with my mother, to check out books. It was a Carnegie Library, opened in 1906, a classic library with high book shelves and tile floors (or maybe the floors were linoleum). I do remember that we had to be very quiet and talk in a quiet voice while visiting.
The adults had to climb the stairs to go to the second floor to find their books. The children’s section was on the first floor and it was there that I discovered the rest of the Freddy The Pig series. I thoroughly enjoyed reading my first Freddy book, Freddy the Detective, and going to the library allowed me to check out other books from the series. I am sure I thought Walter R. Brooks was the greatest writer ever. It was the library, along with the library staff who worked there, that started me down the path that led to my becoming a librarian.
Much has changed in libraries today. Computers have replaced the old card catalogs. Print journals and indices have been replaced by electronic versions. In public libraries e-books have become the rage. Librarians and library staff have not been replaced by computers, yet, and hopefully this will never happen. The human interface is still vital to the research process, whether it is a young boy looking for Freddy and the Baseball Team From Mars, a Wittenberg student researching some aspect of the Vietnam War or a faculty member conducting research on frogs in northern Michigan. A librarian can help you find just what you need and help you get it. So, don’t be afraid to ask for assistance. There is a saying among some librarians, “The only dumb question is the one you don’t ask.” We are here to help. It’s what we do. Ask David McCullough.