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ABC Business

June 23, 2003

Out of thirty-one envelopes bearing bills and checks in the library’s name, which constituted last week’s mailing, only six went to Salida addresses.

I started to compare this to the totals for an entire year, but we wrote checks to a couple hundred different entities last year. Tallying this became a chore instead of a pleasant diversion.

I’ve pondered this characteristic of the library’s business before, mostly as a kind of armchair traveler thumbing through the stack of envelopes for exotic addresses.

There’s not much to be done about it. Although we’ve bought books locally before, the library buys most of its books through the same wholesalers that bookstores use.

From our primary wholesaler, Ingram, books usually come through warehouses in Oregon or Indiana. The home office is in Tennessee. But we send our checks to Dallas, TX. Crazy world.

Even when we shop in town, we don’t always pay in town. Wal-Mart is a big outfit. It’s home office is in Bentonville, Arkansas. However, checks settling our account are mailed to Macon, Georgia.

If you don’t consider Wal-Mart local, then consider Gobin’s Office Supply downtown. Jason and Tamara Gobin live happily in town, but we send our checks to the main office in Pueblo.

Besides the six Salida addresses last week, we did some ABC business (Always Buy Colorado) in Lakewood, Colorado Springs, Buena Vista, Saguache, Aurora, Pueblo, Denver, and Grand Junction.

I thought of Ed Quillen’s interesting historical analysis showing that Colorado’s frame of reference has moved from Chicago to Los Angeles. This part of the West was once the hinterland to Chicago and grew under its influence. Ed argues persuasively that the dominant influence now flows from California.

However, we didn’t have a bill from California last week. Perhaps we’re living in the past.

We sent four checks to Texas: one to San Antonio and three to Dallas. Three to Illinois: Moline, Carol Stream, and Chicago. Also receiving mail were Phoenix, Arizona; Louisville, Kentucky; Oklahoma City.

On the East Coast, we paid Holmes, Pennsylvania; Palm Beach, Florida; New York, New York; Baltimore, Maryland; Woburn, Massachusetts — which accepts payment for the New York Times. Go figure.

Back in the Midwest, we sent payments to Mankato, Minnesota, and Madison, Wisconsin.

If we don’t always buy Colorado, we might always buy American. Or can we? It’s a tough thing to know sometimes.

G.E. Capital, General Electric’s financial services business, has evidently moved 15,000 administrative jobs to India. When you call G.E. customer service, you may well be talking to someone in India. How does one then parse the Americanity of G.E.?

One of the library’s Internet domains is hosted by a British firm. That’s not so bad, since the Brits are our buddies. We buy books from Oxford University Press.

Many U.S. publishers get books printed across the Pacific for shipment to and sale in the United States. I still don’t understand it, but it must make sense or it wouldn’t happen so much — in virtually every industry.

Sometimes, we even ship raw materials across the Pacific and then bring them back refined. I can only shrug. The world is networked in startling ways.

It doesn’t matter where the library’s web page “is,” because it’s always “on the Internet.” Period. Location doesn’t matter when people can get there in an instant.

The virtual library is available any time from anywhere. The real library is open 7 days a week, 70 hours per week. Come visit this summer.

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