22 November 2009

The Great Library Debate

It's high time I had a guest post! I suggested having them long ago and then nothing happened... until now. I have a good friend, Aldous Maximus, who wrote a provocative post that I really enjoyed. With his permission I have posted it below:
I went to the library this week and was once again reminded and entirely split over the magnificent question that entreats me every time I need a book- Should I look for the book myself, or should I ask the librarian for help?
At surface level it appears to be a cursory query, but with necessary explication its truth is unraveled like the tootsie roll at the center of a tootsie pop. To preface, let me say I don't like the idea of relying on others to do things I am fully capable of doing myself. I am selling myself short when I have an opportunity to learn something valuable and instead I just have someone else do it for me. I have come to Earth to learn and experience, something that will be entirely lost if I let others do all the learning for me. There's some strange reason why I feel it's part of my democratic responsibility as a competent American to know how the Dewey Decimal system works and to be able to find my own sources in the library. Knowledge is power, and the acquisition of knowledge is the acquisition of power, be it for righteous or wicked loyalties. Finding information in the library is an ability to acquire intelligence. If I can't figure out how the library works how will I ever be able to become a contributing member of society? Does that sound far fetched? Hardly! I can certainly contribute without ever setting foot in a library, but imagine how much more I can benefit my fellow men and women when I am equipped with an arsenal of self-discovered knowledge that is personally meaningful to me!
Those are my arguments for finding a book myself in the library. Now for the rebuttal.

Time is perhaps the world's greatest commodity in our current decade. Time is not renewable and those who make the most of their time are generally more happy and successful than their neighbors (at least by my introspection). The squandering of time is a terrible thing because it is only finite and cannot ever be given back. I will never get a chance to live November 21st 2009 again. So why would I spend it looking for a book that a trained librarian can find in half the time? Wouldn't I be better served if I spent 10 minutes asking a helper for a book and 50 minutes researching the book than I would if I spent 20 minutes looking for the book and 40 minutes researching it? Libraries provide jobs for people, both highly skilled Library Science degree holders and students trying to pay for their education in geography or nutritional science or something. Is it prideful to deny them an opportunity to help me because I think I can do it on my own?
Oh the questions I could ask! This debate rages in my heart and my mind each time I enter the double doors of the phenomenal public institution known as a 'library' or a 'house of intelligence.' Which school of thought do you follow? Would you prefer to forsake your God-given ability to learn and instead let a librarian do the work for you, or would you rather deny that librarian an opportunity to save you time and instead waste your resources finding, not doing? Would you like to gain knowledge and take control of your time through conquering the library or would you prefer to allow a helpful service person to use his/her trained expertise to save your resources for others? -Aldous Maximus
Well, I haven't fully formulated my opinion yet. I usually spend five minutes looking for a book on my own, then give up and ask the librarian. I think Aldous brings up some intriguing points, however. I'm intereseted in your thoughts.


Carly said...

What a question! Since I work at a library, I feel qualified to give my opinion. Does it matter that I manage the finances of the library?

Without further ado, my opinions is that it depends on what you are doing. If you are just getting one book and you know that book will give you what you want, then get it yourself. If you are doing some sort of research and are unsure of the exact information the book may yield-- ask a librarian. They will probably be able to help you find a lot of helpful information on top of just the book.

I must admit that when I was a student I never asked a librarian.

Lyndsi Shae* said...

Since my Shakespeare class, I've mastered the navigation of 38920 shelves of his plays/criticism on the 5th floor.I gotta say, the competence is rewarding. That is all.

Jenny said...

Let us say, for allegorical purposes, that the library is the world. And the library patrons would then be . . . missionaries, of course. Library workers would be likened unto (you guessed it!) members of the Church. I hope this analogy is as becoming as clear as chocolate. Do we want the missionaries wasting their time finding people to teach (books to read/study)?! Or do we want the members to do the finding so that missionaries have more time to perform the labor they been called to do (studying books)?

I. Rest. My. Case.

Megan said...

I don't necessarily have an opinion on the question of whether or not to use a librarian's assistance in finding a book. I have never asked for help, but I feel fairly competent in a library. If you want help, then ask for help. I do take issue with the excuse of saving time. "Excuse" isn't the right word, but I am not as eloquent as some. I believe that the world is far too focused on cramming as much into one day as possible. Aldous said that he has observed that people are happier when they make the most of their time, but I do not think this is always true. I think this can be what turns people in to workaholics who are always focused on efficiency and productivity, but who rarely take the time to savor and enjoy life. So what if you spend a few extra minutes walking through the quiet splendor of the library? It isn't the end of the world. In fact, I "waste" time on purpose after finding a book by flipping through the surrounding books that intrigue me. The dance library on the 4th floor is one of my favorite places on campus. Of course, if you are on a deadline and need a book within the next five minutes or else you will die, then by all means, ask the librarian.