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Twilight of Dreams

March 20, 2006

I had a brilliant idea for this column. I made a mental outline at the beginning of the week. Inexplicably, I neglected to write it down. At the time, it seemed so obvious that I didn’t think I could fail to remember it. But I did.

What’s inexplicable is that I convinced myself against a lifetime of evidence to rely on a mental note. That’s what paper is for.

Many years ago, I kept note paper at my bedside for thoughts in the night. Or, more likely, for thoughts in the morning. Late night thoughts are the consequence of tossing and turning when unable to fall asleep. Early morning thoughts come out of the twilight of dreams as the brain rolls over from its sleeping state to its waking state.

Taking notes frees the mind. If you need to remember something but have no reliable place to record it, you must keep it in mind, often as a litany in your head, “Plumber. Taxes. Meet Aunt June for lunch. Plumber. Taxes. Meet Aunt June for lunch …”

Imagine keeping track of our modern society with an oral tradition. We are the product of text, of books, of information waiting at our fingertips.

I saw a clever cartoon of a boy working at a computer. His mom comes into the room, and the boy says, “Wait, I have to finish this research for my term paper.”

Mom reminisces, “I remember all the hours I spent at the library …”

The boy turns and says, “Wait, you WENT to a library?”

It’s not such a strange idea to our library users. We still get plenty of visitors. Check-outs are up; door counts are up; Internet sign-ups are up. The last one is hard to believe, I know, since the computers seem so busy. How could they get busier?

The climb in circulation is gratifying. But you don’t have to be at the library to use the library. I’d love for more people to use our online resources, both in the library and from home. We’re trying to find the ones most useful to our patrons.

We added Ancestry.com to supplement HeritageQuest. Both are genealogy databases, and popular.

Ancestry.com and the Colorado Grants Guide Online are the two online subscriptions we have that can only be used within the library. The others can also be used from home.

They include HeritageQuest [genealogy]; Encyclopedia Britannica Online [full-text of encyclopedia plus websites and journal articles]; the Columbia Granger’s World of Poetry [huge index with full-text, plus reference materials on all kinds of poetry].

Book clubs take note: Contemporary Authors and Literary Criticism [author biographies and analysis]; Novelist [guide to over 135,000 fiction titles with subject headings, reviews, read- alike lists, discussion guides, etc.].

Businesses take note: ReferenceUSA [marketing and research database with 13 million U.S. business listings and 120 U.S. residential listings].

There are more under two database providers: EBSCO and OCLC FirstSearch. These include an academic journal index with full-text for 3,500 peer-reviewed journals [good for college and h.s. students], a newspaper index, a business journal index with full-text, regional business news, the ERIC database for educators, HealthSource [consumer health information]; plus

Magazine indexes for high school, middle school, and grade school; Agricola [database from the National Agricultural Library]; plus

Spanish language indexes: Fuente Academica [index and full-text of 200 Spanish language journals, and MedicLatina [index and full-text of 100 Spanish language medical journals].

Or, you can just come in and get a book.

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