Student Snippets A Window Into The Daily Life & Thoughts of SLIS Students

Out with the Old, in with the New

In January I left my last nursing job so that I could better pursue a position in the wonderful world of librarianship. When I did so, my partner and I sat down and talked about how to make that decision work economically. He’s in grad school getting his doctorate in science, so he gets paid through that. It’s a pretty fixed amount, and not something that would keep us easily afloat for long without me working as well. Especially since I went to Nurse Practitioner grad school for a year, and I’m still paying off those loans, plus now I’m gathering more debt from LIS school, and we bought a house last year. We’ve both spent years saving up for all of this, but still. So, we sat down and thought of the lowest priorities for spending and how and where to cut corners. We ate a lot of rice and beans until I starting get more jobs, and we cut our cell phone plans. Now- we still had cell phones because we’d paid those off quite a while ago- but we started using them for internet only, got a pay by the minute plan, and kept them on airplane mode at all times. Last month or the month before, I got really into a fanfiction story I was reading on my phone and so I took it in the bathroom with me since I just didn’t want to stop reading it for a minute. You can likely guess the rest. My phone is no longer with us. I shorted it out by dropping it in water. So, now for a little while I’ve also been living without my handy little portable computer.

The phone thing, though, is what really got people. Most folks just did not understand why it was tough to contact me, or completely balked when I said I didn’t have a cell phone. I have Google Voice (free service) so I can still text with my family and get adorable pictures of my nieces, don’t worry. And- I do have a landline. It’s not like I’ve gone off the grid and I’m wandering the forests of the Yukon, here, I just didn’t have a mobile phone. The more people were weird about it, too, the more I wanted to keep not having a phone. Like- yes, doctor’s office, you may have to find a work around here- no I can’t just call you back whenever. I thought about some of my WIC clients in the past too and all the rigmarole you have to go to in order to stay on government assisted programs. Systems can be real rigid sometimes, y’all. This week I really needed to make a call when I was on a college campus, and- guess what- no more public access or pay phones on that campus! (thank you college librarian who helped me confirm this was true rather than my continued trek to every building on campus).

So, all this reminded me of why public libraries still sometimes have fax machines (really important, actually) and VHS movies and cassette tapes. It also reminded me of a correctional facility library I visited with my LIS 422 class. Incarcerated individuals can’t have access to the internet without supervision usually, if at all. The library we went to had typewriters for the inmates to use for typing, but no computers other than one behind the desk (I think I’m remembering the numbers right, here). They were struggling with the typewriters because manufacturers are no longer making some of the replacement parts since it’s an ever shrinking population of users. (typewriter attachments to fancy devices- not the same). People who were incarcerated are getting out of prisons and sometimes have no experience using a mouse or a computer. Have y’all tried to apply for a job without getting online lately? I thought about the cassette tapes I made when I was a kid and how I recently scoured the land for a cassette player to use in digitizing these. 

My lack of a cell phone and the little internet and camera device it also was, got me thinking about the digital divide, what happens to those dependent on “old” tech as a consumer majority switches to the new, and what happens to information held in an obsolete format. All of these questions, highlight the value and responsibility of our profession and libraries and archives to me. Feel free to use this as fuel in your “why do we still need libraries?” responses, I certainly will.