Local lifestyle columnists

The printed page in a digital age

By From page B5 | July 19, 2014

Doctor, speaking to an older patient sitting on the examination table: “Unfortunately, your satellite dish is interfering with your pacemaker. The good news is,  you’ll be dreaming in high-definition surround sound.” – From a cartoon by Chris Wildt.

Lately, the information aspects of life make me feel as if we’re all on the verge of getting hard-wired to some big computer in the sky, like in the book “Feed” by M.T. Anderson. With each new device, each boost in processor speed, each increase in storage capacity, each upgrade, I’m bombarded with ever more data, ever faster. Smartphones, tablets, pagers, email, voice mail, texting and tweets are taking over my life. Arghh!

Jim Trelease, author of “The Read-Aloud Handbook,” has just released the seventh edition of a work that urges parents to read to their children. “In 1982, when the first edition appeared, there was no Internet or email, no cell phones, DVD players, iTunes, iPods, iPads, Amazon, e-books, WiFi, Facebook or Twitter,” said Trelease. “The closest thing to an instant message was a facial expression that exasperated mothers gave their children as a warning. Texting was something you did on a typewriter.”

Technology a boon or a burden?

Nowadays, you can self-check groceries at your local Raley’s or Safeway. Kaiser and NorthBay Medical Center doctors communicate via email and send test results electronically. Your dentist can text you when its time for a teeth cleaning or checkup.

If you use an ATM machine, you expect it to record your debits and give you a current balance, just as if the bank’s teller was doing it, don’t you? Your car itself has become one giant computer that can park itself, guide you to your destination and discreetly scan for problems. Finally, advances in medicine and the assistive technology offer grievously injured vets a chance to regain use of their bodies and athletes the ability to compete on prosthetic limbs. Who could imagine?

Whether you think all this electronic capability is a boon to mankind or the precursor to cyborgs taking over the world, you can’t deny technology’s impact. Everything has become part of the expanding cloud of “personal information” necessary for our work and home lives.

Death of the printed word?

Those who say that books and libraries are dying haven’t witnessed the explosion of Kindle and Nooks. E-readers have not only expanded the definition of “book.” They’ve also sparked an increased interest in and demand for free e-book services at Solano County Library. Many of our customers regularly download library e-books to their Kindle or iPad and never worry about late fees – the downloaded books “disappear” at the end of the checkout period – no fees, no fuss.

Moreover, Solano County Library is thriving. From five libraries in 1990, it has grown to eight. All of the libraries have been modernized with a focus on quick, convenient customer service, an online catalog and databases available to all county residents, good collections of books, movies, music and more – and it’s free.

For those of you who don’t have home computers or feel you are not quite up to speed on new technology, you can sign up with a computer docent to help you set up an email account, download books to your Kindle, show you how to set up a Facebook account or launch a job search. Plus, with nice furnishings and up-to-date technology, the library is a place for people to come, browse, take advantage of free WiFi, relax, read and discuss the topics of the day. Last year, there were 1.5 million visits to the Library.

For a hundred years, Solano County Library has worked with people to better their station in life, spark a love of learning, discover information, or just find a great book to read. It’s an honor to carry this proud tradition into the next century.

For more information about Solano County Library’s services, visit www.solanolibrary.com or call 1-ASK-US.

Yvette Klemm is a Library Associate at the Solano County Library.

Yvette Klemm


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