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By Appointment or Chance

July 27, 2009

Linda M. Lebsack Books has sold Colorado and Western history books and ephemera in Denver for many years but now is closing up shop on Broadway. Unlike many bookstores, it will not close completely.

It will operate from a private residence during limited hours or “by appointment or chance.” Sounds nice, actually.

It has been proposed that libraries will one day be mere boutiques for the nostalgic or the minority who might prefer the quiet commune.

It’s hard to embrace such a prediction, a kind that has been around for decades, given the growth of library use during those same decades, but futurists find some slack by saying it is a matter of a tipping point we haven’t quite reached but which is certainly coming–something generational, or technical, or political.

Linda Lebsack sent a postcard announcing her change of circumstances, and it had a picture of an old poster, or “pofter.” I would love to keep a copy handy to hang on my office door:

“Notice to all Patrons! I have been obliged by the fheer Weight of Fatigue to quit my Poft, & repair to My Dwelling-houfe, until I have fully recovered My Ufual Compofure. All Patrons will find Me of a cheerful Demeanor, and in Readinefs for Bufinefs or Confultation, upon a return.”

Marvelous. We should have sabbaticals for all, and siestas. If we did, library use would surely rise even more. (The first half of this year, we saw a 15% increase in check-outs, with only a 3% rise in visitors through the door.)

Of course, things may change; necessarily, they will. Maybe the threshold of telling technological change is just around the corner. Apple is supposedly about to announce a new “killer” appliance (pardon the violent language) that will surpass the iPhone and make the Amazon Kindle e-book reader a dinosaur. Could happen.

We are closer to being fully connected all the time. Most enduring religious traditions seek “connection,” and I wonder if our chattering networks can ever play a role in that.

I see more and more people tired of being networked and choosing when and where to be connected (e.g. using the Internet at the library instead of home). It’s a healthy response. It is accepting change, paying attention to it, and letting go.

I’m reading a story of change now. I’d picked it up several times from Laura’s bookshelf but never started from the beginning.

It happens to be written by a friend of hers, Jeffery Paine, who is coming through next week on his way to Crestone to work for a month. So, I figured I’d better read the whole thing.

It’s a fascinating story: “Re-enchantment: Tibetan Buddhism comes to the West.” Before 1959, when China invaded and the Dalai Lama fled, Tibet was a mystery, at least to the West. A few people journeyed over the centuries (drawn like those people in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”), hoping to explore the fabled and magical land.

Right now, I’m reading the part about Tenzin Palmo, a poor British girl named Diane Perry who made her way to India in 1964 to help Tibetan refugees and stayed. She then spent twenty years on retreat in a mountain cave.

I realized this was the teacher friends went to see in Albuquerque recently, but I didn’t need that personal connection to be fascinated.

Change comes. After a long retreat, people usually return to civilization slowly, but Tenzin Palmo got a knock on her cave door from an angry policeman telling her to leave. Her visa had expired. So she left, on to something new.


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One Comment
  1. Janet Lubas permalink

    Dear Mr. Donian,
    I happen to have a poster of the quote, “Notice to all Patrons! I have been obliged by the fheer Weight of Fatigue to quit my Poft, & repair to My Dwelling – houfe, until I have fully recovered My Ufual Compufuse. All Patrons will find Me of a cheerful Demeanot, and in Readinefs for Bufinefs or Confultation, upon a return.” I googled the quote because I was curious as to where it came from and your blog was the first search result. The poster is in very good condition. If you are still interested in hanging this quote on your office door, I will gladly mail it to you.
    Janet Lubas

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