Wednesday, July 20, 2005

A library with no books?

That's what the University of Texas at Austin may have soon as it moves out stacks of books for computer terminals, sofas and coffee bars.

My first reaction to this article on Chronicle Careers (a website BTW) was: Well, that's TEXAS for you. My second reaction was sadness and a sense of loss - - - what those students will lose -- more than they may ever know.

Books have been the stabilizer in my life - men may come and go; my daughter may move across the country; friends change; I even have had to put beloved pets to their eternal rest; but my books - my shelves and shelves of books - well, they're always there for me.

Poe is right where I put him last. As is F Scott and even Zelda.
Anne Rice is huddled on a shelf near Stephen King - who has a couple of different spots, depending on the volumes sizes. Lillian Jackson Braun resides close by Anne Kelleher - who really doesn't like cats but that's OK. Geoffrey Ashe's many works sit on a shelf above Dashiel Hammett - both great gentlemen but of different sensibilities. Harlan Ellison stands alone - but close to CS Lewis and Joyce Carol Oates.

There are many more favorite books and soon to be favorite books. Harry Potter and his ilk even have their own rocking chair in my living room.

I can see them whenever I want - gaze at the varied titles - from The Tycoon to Watership Down -whenever I want. I don't have to boot up or log on and I can pile them around me - researching and moving from one to the other without changing screens. I have every one of them "saved" - and not on floppies.

I have two company laptops and my second personal computer. I have an eBookman. But my books - my many-paged and many times paged books - are my constant companions.

Set me in a little house in the woods and all I would need, after food and water, would be a purring cat on my lap and shelves of books.

I guess I'm old fashioned. But that's okay.
I'm having dinner with Edgar Alan tonight and JK Rowling - they make a lovely couple.


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