I’ve grown used to bracing myself when someone asks what I do (for a living.) Admitting you’re a librarian often has the same effect as claiming you’re toilet attendant at a high end restaurant. “Oh, they still have those? How quaint! And sort of gross.”
It’s the same as any industry. People who don’t use a thing won’t see the need for the thing, even if it’s absolutely necessary to someone else. And people are so varied, from rich versus poor all the way to intellectually curious versus dull as dirt, so it’s impossible to justify library with one argument for every person in the world. An online search for the use of libraries is counterproductive. “Look, they can’t even justify themselves without using Google. Google is the new library!”
I’d like to say, who do you think puts all that information online, organized and ready for access? Where do you think it’s stored and who’s paying for the storage? Why do you think it’s there at all instead of thrown out or left in a box in a closet? But if someone’s already made up their mind, thanks to years of reciting “Google, what is a rock hopper penguin?” into their smartphone, well, their mind is made. Finished. Done. And there’s no use for a library for a mind that’s done.
I recently watched the film ‘Cell’ based on Stephen King’s novel. It had a lot of interesting ideas, was slightly baffling, and like so many movies based on his stories it gave the overwhelming feeling that it had probably made a better book than a movie. Yet there’s ‘The Shawshank Redemption’, ‘The Green Mile’, ‘Stand by Me’, ‘Misery’, and other examples of great films that started as King’s text. What’s the diference?
As indistinct CG zombie ghosts swirled around John Cusack it came to me that the difference is usually supernatural. King is a master of mixing real people and their relatable lives into something absolutely beyond that, making it seem like the surreal and terrifying isn’t very far beyond us either. This doesn’t translate well to film. For example, the nuances of a society succumbing to technology addiction end up boiled down to swirling CG zombie ghosts and look just as ridiculous as you’d expect.
One exception that challenges this theory is ‘The Shining’, containing more than a little supernatural but still well received and continues to be appreciated. Frankly, though, after director Stanley Kubrick got away with the Star Child at the end of ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’, he probably could have put anything in ‘The Shining’ and people would have eaten it up.