We're in the County's library system here in Malibu, and ever since they did away with card catalogs a few years ago, I've been, well, cranky. I miss everything about them -- the golden wood, the long, small drawers, the musty scent, the thick paper of each entry, some crisp and new, some foxed and fuzzy-edged from use.
We've got a computer system now, of course, as do so many libraries these days. Half the time it's really, really slow. Sometimes it's down completely. Often enough it's inaccurate and you have to do your search several different times and a few different ways to get a real answer. And now, our library, this most democratic of places, has added a new stumbling block to the card catalog search. Where once anyone could log on and look for a book, now you have enter your library card number. Just to search, just to look, you need to have a library card.
To be fair, the librarians say that if you don't have a card they'll do the search for you. But where's the freedom to browse, the freedom to look around without asking permission, asking for help, and without leaving an electronic trail? As I said, undemocratic and, in my humble (and cranky) opinion, wrong.