As I end my time with the Ada Public Library, here are some of the things I learned:
The book is alive and well, long live the book.
All this chatter about Kindle and Nook and other e-readers killing the book, the hold-it-in-your-hands, dog-ear-its-pages, write-in-the-margins physical container of the scripted, lettered page, is all chatter.
For many rural residents, streaming is for fish.
Yeah, movies and TV shows are available through downloading, streaming, borrowing a friend's HBO Now password, or using Netflix and Hulu, but a lot of library patrons find it easier to pop a DVD into the good ol' VCR.
The technology gap is real, especially in rural areas (see above).
There's been plenty of talk about the white/black digital divide, as in this 2014 study by Pew, but not about the rural/urban one. Pew itself last took a look back in 2006, the Internet Stone Age. There's spotty high-speed Internet access here. Many residents still have good ol' dial-up routers, turning The Hangover into the equivalent of stop-action claymation. No wonder DVD rentals are such a big part of the Ada Public Library's business.
You forget stuff. Especially basic stuff from grade school.
Such as alphabetizing. When alphabetizing, The and A are ignored when they begin a title. However, they are taken into account when they are within a title. This means that Stan and Jan Berenstain's The Berenstain Bears and Mama's New Job comes before The Berenstain Bears Learn About Strangers. Titles beginning with the possessive form of a noun follow titles that begin with the non-possessive form. Arthur, It's Only Rock and Roll gets shelved in front of Arthur's Birthday.
Test your skills. What books are out of order in the Berenstain Bears canon, pictured below?
Reading is a lifelong pleasure.
I remember spending hours reading every volume in Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House series, every short story written by Ray Bradbury. But reading for pleasure took a fall when I got to college. I read for a purpose. I read with intent. I read for knowledge and for reward, for grades and for a paycheck. The avid readers of Ada have reminded me that reading is fun and enjoyable, that books can and should be relished and savored.