Change of scene

 Today, I am writing at the library in downtown Oklahoma City. It was my son’s idea. He is an avid writer, who wanted a change of scene. Our downtown library is a lovely building. It is full of clean summer sunlight without the heat of outdoors. Whoever designed the building created glass which only allows in cool comforting light in soothing blue tones. The ceiling is a giant skylight. Walls are nearly all glass on the north, east, and west sides. Rooms of various sizes line the walls. Opaque partitions lie perpendicular to the outside walls while light streams through glass panels parallel to the outside walls letting in more light. The rooms vary in size from small study cubicles to a large room designated “quiet reading space” in which comfortable chairs combine with large golden wood conference tables to invite readers to focus.

We are not in a room, but seated at a luxuriously large conference table kindly fitted with power ports. Wifi streams freely and fast to all patrons and their various devices. There is a busy hush to the open space on the second floor. Each floor is open to the other four floors.

The downstairs has a roomy children’s section, several service desks, fiction, teen area, a large atrium with a grand piano, and dozens of small tables and chairs, and some offices hidden behind opaque walls.

The second floor is slightly smaller than the first. The space above the atrium is open to the fourth floor letting in loads of cool light. I wonder what it is like in here when the piano is in use. There are a large number of tables with computers, some are for library catalog searches while others are for use by patrons who need general computer access including the web.

The second floor is non-fiction. One whole section is for materials related to the Holocaust against the Jewish people by the German Nazis during the second world war. Along the south wall is a set of three microfiche/microfilm readers. This is very exciting. I had no idea they were still in use. I wonder what kind of films they still keep in this format.

Sitting here working, the physical environment fades away into the busy hush of people going about their business. I hear the soft sound of a hard working janitor using a straw broom to sweep off the texture tile stairs. I don’t know if that is a way of reducing noise or the best way to clean, but her rhythmic sweeping is soothing.

For some visitor information–

http://www.mls.lib.ok.us/downtown-library

Arts District Parking Garage Main & Colcord

Arts District Parking Garage Main & Colcord

http://parkingokc.com/arts-district Bring your parking ticket from this garage to the front desk of the downtown library for a $1 off voucher.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/153540.The_Little_House

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On our short walk from the Arts District Garage to the Downtown Library, we saw this tiny structure which reminded us of a children’s book, The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton.tlh

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Research for Writing

Research for writing is one of my favorite things. I can sit at the computer for hours digging deeper and deeper into the knowledge on the web relating to any topic. What car would have been available in 1940? In what colors? Did the windows open? Was there a bucket seat or bench option? What does it look like along the road from one place to another? Weather on any date in modern history? I can do this all day.

When I was young, however, information was found exclusively in books and printed periodicals. My grandfather gave us updated sets of the World Book Encyclopedia throughout my childhood. There was always a hefty dictionary on our bookshelf, as well. I had the luxury of doing a certain amount of research at home. To look beyond the encyclopedia or dictionary, we had to go to either the school or public library to get an encyclopedia reference or use the reference section to find resources.

At some point, probably in mid-high, I learned to access information using microfiche and microfilm. I loved these machines. I would check out newspapers on microfilm. They came in little folders stored carefully in wide drawers in the back of the library. To find the exact newspaper on a certain date, you looked in an index books. There were dozens and dozens of indexes. You could search for a name, location, subject, or topic. Then, you requested the microfiche you needed. These resources were valuable, and well guarded by librarians.

Each slip of photographic film was printed with tiny images arranged in a grid. Each small rectangle was the page of a newspaper or periodical. The film was placed between panes of thick glass on a reader. The process was very satisfying, but slow. To retain a copy of the materials you needed, a copy had to be made. Usually, this cost a quarter. You had to be using a microfiche reader with a copier attached. I still remember the chemical smell of the warm paper as it came out of the machine.

Today’s access to the internet is a wonder to those of us who learned to do research old school style.

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