My last blog post was in September. It is now May. A whole school year has come and gone since I last updated. For shame.
So what’s been going on? Let me make a list.
- 1. I moved halfway across the country. (a good decision, though I miss my family)
- 2. I got a job as a Reader’s Advisor at the Washington Talking Book and Braille Library. (More on that in future posts, I’m sure, but money and a job are both good things.)
- 3. I have not been reading nearly as much as I would like, but I’m still plugging along.
- 4. I have become friends with my roommate’s guide dog. I definitely want one of my own, if I ever get the vacation time for it.
- 5. Part of my trip to work involves a ferry. Or, as one of my friends put it, somewhat incredulously, “So you’re telling me you go to work on a boat?” Yes, ma’am. That is what I’m saying.
I do want to talk a bit about my job, as it does relate to the purposes of this blog. Basically, our library lends books out throughout the state to patrons who are print-disabled. We’re part of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped and we’re also affiliated with the Washington State Library.
My day involves a lot of talking to people on the phone, many of whom are elderly, and trying to find appropriate books for them. Most of them simply can’t come in and browse the shelves at our library anyway, and it makes picking out books somewhat difficult.
I enjoy my job. The rest of the staff is warm and friendly, most of the patrons are extremely nice, if clearly somewhat lonely, and at the end of the day I feel rewarded because I’m keeping someone apprised of books.
The downside of my work, though, is that I’ve become more conscious of how much the Internet is a privilege. Many of our patrons are elderly, and don’t have computers, or couldn’t use them if they did. Many of our books are downloadable only. I, on the other hand, have thousands of books at my fingertips. I could go to Audible and buy any old audiobook I wanted. I have access to Bookshare, a website for the distribution of ebooks to the print-disabled. And now both the Nook and Kindle apps are accessible on my iPhone. there isn’t perfect accessibility–not every book I ever want to read is on one of those services–but I have it a lot better than my patrons do. Particularly if I want to research a specialized topic. As one of my colleagues put it, we have the contents of a small branch library in an affluent district. Which is fine for most things, but I know it frustrates people when we can’t fill their specialized niches.
I don’t know what the solution is. Clearly, everyone should be able to afford an iPhone and a computer, and there should be some magical way of transferring knowledge about how to use those devices into people’s brains somehow. Except there isn’t. And in a way I’m glad there isn’t, because I like that these older people need me. I just wish they didn’t have to.