It was like a whole library burned down

Laurie Anderson on the album Bright Red sings that when her father died, it was like a whole library had burned down.

When a library burns, it is a loss for the whole community. The Eckhart Public Library was burned by an arsonist in 2017. It had an awesome collection of resources that were gone overnight. At first, the hope was that some of the more valuable books could be cleaned and rescued but that wasn’t practical. The books are gone, rare edition or paperback novel, popular or ignored.

When someone in my family passes on, their stories and wisdom are gone. My grandpa’s knowledge of hatcheries and business management is unavailable. His stories of being a manager at Coca-Cola during WW II and helping neighbors exceed their sugar quota are just memories now. I can’t ask him what he saw when he visited China in 1978. My nephews and nieces’ kids won’t hear his stories, sense of humor and love of snowmobiles. Others in my family have also died. Their libraries were also burned down by cancer or old age.

The past two years, so many libraries have burned. So many people suddenly gone.

On a personal level, grandchildren may never learn from their grandparents. Children are without a parent to share love and hope with. Marriages have been violently torn apart by a virus. Parents who won’t be able to see their child graduate from college, get married and start a career.

On an economic level there are skills and expertise that can’t be replaced. The future cannot benefit from over 600,000 people’s insights and knowledge; they’re gone. The cost is inestimable.

If someone was carrying a torch into a library, they would be stopped at the door. The freedom to carry a torch is not of a higher order than the need to prevent arson.

With an infectious disease, carrying a viral torch can start many fires. No one can know who is in danger, but it’s society’s prerogative to protect libraries. It is civilization’s duty to keep them safe.

Although the analogy isn’t perfect, wearing a mask and getting vaccinated are how I can avoid carrying a torch. They also help me not ignite others torches. Some libraries are more flammable than others, requiring more caution. When the winds are strong, it may take more effort to protect libraries than on a calm day.

I don’t want any more libraries to burn. Libertarian logic is incompatible with public health. It ignores how past disease outbreaks are defeated. Polio and smallpox were conquered because the needs of the community exceeded personal preference.

Some restrictions can be an affront to personal liberty but there is no right to carry a torch into a library.

IUPUI Capstone

This weekend I went down to IUPUI for the first time.

I’ve been taking LIS classes for a long time, but since they were all online, I didn’t have a need to head down there.

This semester I was had an internship at the Auburn library’s William H. Willinnar Genealogy Center. One of the requirements of the internship is to participate in the Capstone program at the end of the semester.

I got my presentation ready in time for the event and headed down. It was a good experience. I would have liked to have seen what other people had presented, but I didn’t have anyone to spot for me and watch my display so I couldn’t wander off.

I did my best to use some artistic expertise in putting together the display of “Growing a collection through donations and loans.” I had some cream colored cardstock that I put the information on. It took a while to decide what to say and get all of the parts designed and printed up.

I have a bunch of colored paper from the past and I had some that was a nice light green that I put offset from the main text. With the black background of the display, the green really set off the design and made it attractive. I also managed to use color in the text effectively I think. At first I wanted to have a spectrum of colors, but I ended up just using red, blue, green and black which was a lot easier to look at and less busy.

When I got there I felt really inadequate and out of place. Before everything started, I was talking to another Library Science intern who was also there and that helped me feel like I belonged.

One of the people who was taking pictures for the event took several pictures of me talking to people and of the display. Of the people in my room, my material was the most colorful. I’ve been told by family that I’m pretty photogenic, so I hope the photos come out well. Maybe they’ll be up on the Capstone website soon.

I really like the director of the Capstone program. He is really energetic and really funny, in a good way.  I hope I didn’t look like I was laughing at him because I thought he was charming and genuinely entertaining. I couldn’t help but smile while I was watching him in the room where us 4 LIS students were presenting. He showed me his interest in steampunk and his drawings which were a cool surprise.

When I got home, I felt really energized by the experience. I think part of it was being on campus and being around a new group of people.

I had dinner after the presentations with the instructor of the internship, Kym, the department chair, Andrea, and her partner. For some reason, he seemed really familiar to me, but I couldn’t place where. From the conversation we had at dinner, I still couldn’t figure out if I had met him somewhere before and I was too shy to ask.

I’d like to go down to IUPUI more often this semester. I think participating in the university experience in person will enhance my enthusiasm and creativity. Being around other students in person is a lot different then having conversations with them on the course websites.

During the event, I met the professor, Kyle, who is leading my independent study class on privacy. That was nice too. In the past we’d only spoken on the phone or thru email.

For me Capstone wasn’t a high pressure event. However, for all of the other students in the SOIC department, the computer scientists, human computer interaction students, and design students, the Capstone had to succeed or they wouldn’t graduate. For me, it was more an opportunity to promote the library and information science department and try something completely different.

I hope to go to Capstone in the spring as an audience member instead of as a participant. Mathew (the director of Capstone) said there’ll be around 100 Capstones in May. Awesome!