As I predicted with my last blog, I was able to finish the information and summary editing of my final Discovery Page on the French Indochina War.  However, this was not without experiencing my first bout of technical difficulties while at the Pritzker Military Library.  Considering the number of things done online (searching for books through their online catalog, the book check-out service Sirsi Dinex, simple research online through various website), it has been a blessing more hasn’t gone wrong with my handling of it all.  However, with about two hours left in my session, the internet mysteriously stopped working. No website could come up, I couldn’t check any books out, I couldn’t even search for books through the catalog.  Thankfully there weren’t many patrons at the library that day, so we were able to help out the few that were there regardless of the internet troubles.

However, the problems we had coincided with an interesting point the reference coordinator, Paul Grasmehr, brought up.  By now I’ve been able to memorize most of the talks he gives while taking groups of patrons on tours around the library, but at my last session he brought up the point that a lot of libraries are going digital to some extent, having collections of e-readers that people can access books from.  Although he said Pritzker would also be doing this to some degree in the future, the majority of their collection would remain in the “original” book form.  That I feel is quite the accomplishment in today’s day and age, and one I never thought would actually happen.  E-readers are great for some extent, but the library is about so much more than simply finding books for a research project.The stores of books and endless aisles of quiet isolation provide an area to just get lost in the idea of knowledge, and honest-to-goodness paper books fill in the walls of that space.  Having a library look more like an Apple store may be more convenient, but it seems like there wouldn’t be any plush chairs at the end of a hidden corner of the stacks of books (such a place exists in Loyola’s library, and I make an effort to go there all the time to study).  I can greatly respect Pritzker Military Library’s mission to offer such a niche collection of books, while maintaining what to some is antiquated, but for others is a way of life.

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