Life Before Google

The internet came out around the time I was in college. For my one (much dreaded but required) public speaking course, I had an assignment to prepare a speech using the internet as the sole source of research. The topic I had chosen was "lucid dreams", and so I searched for lucid dreams for hours. One, same, damn, useless website was the only result, no matter what I did. Apparently there was only one person who had posted an article on lucid dreams on the entire world wide web. It was my first time really using the internet for anything other than email, and I was not impressed.

In my senior year, my last paper was on poetry. I had decided to examine how Baudelaire and Rilke approached writing about love. I went to the main branch of the New York Public Library to get some books on these poets. I doubt it even occurred to me to try the internet at that point. This library was one of the most breathtaking things I have ever seen. Vast ceilings, intricately designed everything, a zillion books. I ended up spending two weeks working on that paper, and it turned out to be the best I ever wrote. When I found it a few years later I could not believe it was me that wrote it. My professor wrote A++ on it, probably because her mind was blown that a senior would put that much effort into a paper that had zero potential to impact her life. But I think it was that library that inspired me.
Fallflower Fallflower
41-45, F
4 Responses Feb 7, 2013

Also--I think the library inspired you and brought out the best in you when you wrote your A+++ paper! Definitely.

Libraries are comparatively labor intensive and time consuming. BUT, I would argue --and this goes for bookstores too-- there is nothing like having your eyes catch something on the shelf that you otherwise would not have found, something about seeing all the books, being surrounded by them. You are not just scanning titles--it's the atmosphere, the environment is unique, and I especially like people that I tend to meet in such places. You can't get any of that on the internet.
As for research, it is probably impractical at this point when so much data is available online and it is all organized...still, they teach library science in elementary schools, and those libraries are busy places. My county one is always packed, the clerks, always busy. Good to know right? There are some things the internet cannot simulate.

Always go back to the tried and true b/c we know it works ;) Great story! I know where you are coming from about the interwebz being in it's adolescence. Downloading music back then on Napster would take a week! lol

I was cleaning out some of my old files and paperwork and came across a paper that I wrote during school as well and just like you, it was hard to believe that *I* wrote it lol A++ is a pretty high mark!

Thanks! Funny how we can write stuff we don't recognize later :)

I'm sure it was the library.
I've been in there, sat at the little wooden lamp lit tables. When I learned how they retrieved books there I decided I wanted to work there...
I was in college too at the time and our assignment was to GO to the library. I don't even know what we were researching or writing about at the time (I went with a friend) but I can remember that place...

I haven't been in that library since, but still remember how incredible it was. Teachers now don't insist enough on using the library.