DY: In Just a Few Words (#80)
Do you still go to an actual library?
I pride myself on having a nearly encyclopedic knowledge of events and inventions that have made our world a better place.
For example, I remember an opposite field triple I hit that won an important elementary school game. I remember mowing the Farr family’s lawn in summers. I remember paying half as much for our first house as many people pay for a car today. And, the list could go on and on and on. All important, if somewhat useless, facts...
Do you remember years ago what resource you may have used to do research on a topic unless you had a nerdy friend who would do it for you? As for me, my nerdy friend was my library card. Great then, but libraries in olden times bore no resemblance to the wonderful, high tech libraries of 2022.
Here’s a true library tale from olden times. A number of years ago, a prospective client wanted our firm to assist with myriad issues being caused by an unsuccessful leveraged buyout. Could we help them? Absolutely.
I didn't even know what a leveraged buyout was, but I knew I needed to get smarter ASAP. I went immediately to the Cleveland Public Library so I could dig around. Surely the librarians could help. They handed me a bunch of business magazines. This was in 1988. I spent hours going through issues of BusinessWeek and other periodicals. Slow, laborious reading. There are no humorous books on leveraged buyouts to capture and hold one’s attention. Leveraged buyouts are neither fun nor funny. What do you think your local librarian would instruct today in place of those magazines? Perhaps a little more technology? Maybe there’s a digital solution to my request and I don’t have to set foot in my local library. You think?
Some years before that, my daughter’s kindergarten teacher arrived at our home one evening to sell us a product guaranteed to make our five-year-old much smarter forever. Does the name World Book Encyclopedia ring a bell? Yes, indeed, for several years of low monthly payments, the nice folks at World Book were happy to sell us their product, plus provide an annual, hardcover update edition.
We quickly succumbed to the charming sales talk of our little girl’s teacher and signed on the dotted line. A lot of people made a lot of money selling encyclopedia sets to young families in those days intent on ensuring a bright future for their child.
Knowledge-gathering today looks a little different today, doesn’t it? Thank you, Google. Thank you, Alexa. Thank you, Wikipedia. No more wading through big, heavy books. A few keystrokes or a simple voice command (Alexa, where was the first golf course?) and voila! (St. Andrews in Scotland, started in 1847, is considered the home of golf.) In a total of perhaps 20 seconds with Alexa (with a strong assist from Wikipedia) I learned the first 18-hole golf course in America was built in 1892 outside Chicago, the first amateur tournament was in 1895 and the first professional tournament in 1904. No need to waste four-and-a-half hours in the library looking up something like that when you can spend the same amount of time on a golf course.
ON A SIDE NOTE: Did you know that you can still buy a World Book hardcover set? Yep. Just go to their website, where you can order the latest 22-volume edition for the low, low price of $599. It will look spectacular on your bookshelf and will be the talk of your next gathering. I promise.
DY: In Just a Few Words is a blog that comes out when something needs to be said or every Tuesday - whichever comes first. Davis Young is a communications professional who adds 50+ years of experience and perspective to issues of the day. His emphasis in DY: In Just a Few Words will be humor (a touch of sarcasm here, a pinch of facetiousness there...). Once in a while, he will touch on something a bit more serious - but hopefully not too deep or depressing.
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