A Trip to the Library

20May08

It may seem odd, but about two weeks ago I went to the Boston Public Library for the first time in the course of my entire college career. I had been there before as a tourist, but this time I was there with an actual academic purpose. I needed the January 2007 issue of Cosmopolitan and the July 2, 2007 issue of Sports Illustrated in order to finish the advertising content analysis I was doing for my thesis. I made sure that the library had these specific magazines by going through its catalogue online and calling to double-check.

I made my way to the library early on a Wednesday morning. I stood in line for 10 minutes while other people requested what they needed. Then, after making my request, I waited another 20 minutes for them to find my magazines. When they came back with the wrong volumes, I waited another 15 minutes for them to find the right ones. I waited for almost an hour! You have to understand, an hour during finals is like an eternity! I could’ve used that hour to sleep, to study for something else, take a nice long shower, you name it, I could’ve been doing that.

Boston Public Library

Instead I was sitting there, at the Boston Public Library, waiting for someone to bring me the materials I needed from the basement. I couldn’t help but think that if only advertising content was available online like regular magazine content was I wouldn’t be sitting there wasting my precious time. It was then that I realized that as a digital native, I had become accustomed to having any information I wanted a click away and it never took longer than five seconds.

As a digital native the concept of waiting for information is quite foreign to me. Even more foreign, is the concept of having to move myself away from my own computer to get it. As long as I have access to the Internet practically everything is at the tip of my fingers, literally. I guess that’s why the Internet is so convenient and why I have become so impatient.

-Maria Garcia

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4 Responses to “A Trip to the Library”

  1. I’m a digital native of another type — I grew up with a TRS-80 and many PC and Mac successors, and am happily OS agnostic these days, with multiple windows and operating systems open simultaneously, and that same desire for information to all be online.

    I did, though, learn to research in the days before computers were even considered viable tools for library-related research. What strikes me is both how much we have easy access to online now, but also how much we’re actually missing that isn’t. Because we’re inundated by so many possibilities when we search online, we forget there’s a whole world of materials that just aren’t digital, and may never be. And, in many cases, we don’t know what we’re missing.

    Heck, you had to use the print because although an online magazine database might have the articles, the ads weren’t scanned! That’s a whole bunch of corporate and marketing ephemera that someone else has deemed “not useful” to researchers. Fascinating, with implications for the future of media and advertising research.

    Despite the delays, I am glad you were able to find what you needed!

  2. Hey Amanda,

    I’m really glad I found those magazines too! And I must agree with you that there is a lot of content that is not available online. I know from experience that there are entire topics that you just can’t find through google searches. That’s where I think libraries and museums come into play and why they are so important, despite their time consuming ways.

    The problem is that libraries and museums are not portable or necessarily easily accessible. I actually had to change my thesis around a bit because I didn’t have access to some of the magazines I originally wanted to look at. Even libraries are selective as to what information they will keep.

    And then there are libraries that are even selective as to who they allow to have access to their information. One library at Harvard carried the magazine I originally wanted to analyze, the problem was they required my librarian (the Emerson College librarian, that is) to write to a letter to them requesting permission from them for me to take a look at their materials. The letter also had to state why I wanted access to that specific library.

    I guess there are definitively limits to what information is available to you in more ways than one. The Internet though, makes everything a lot easier. It is fast, it is convenient, it does not discriminate between people and is not limited geographically.

    Libraries are fun, the internet is just more convenient.

    -Maria

  3. It’s tough because I totally feel like there isn’t anything I can’t find that isn’t online. All the resources I need have been there. In fact, when professors write assignments that just purposely send us to the library, I get really upset.

    If I can find the same sort of information in other forms, why are they forcing us to read books in the library? It’s so inefficient. Just think of the hours of productivity that we can take back by not having to WAIT.


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