"Madame, bear in mind That princes govern all things--save the wind." -Victor Hugo, The Infanta's Rose

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Mrs. Toast goes to Washington


I am pleased to announce today that, following the lead of Hillary Clinton who has suggested that American voters might be ready to elect a woman president in 2008, Mrs. Toast is hereby declaring her candidacy for President of These Here United States. She feels that not only is the time right for a woman to occupy the Oval Office, it is also high time for a Librarian president, someone who will restore order to a chaotic White House by cataloging all that junk that past presidents have just left lying around, you know, in closets and stuff. I think Abe Lincoln may have left an old pair of boots in one of the bedrooms, and God only knows what (or who) Harry Truman might have stashed away in the attic. Another major item on her agenda will be a proposal to balance the federal budget by forcefully collecting unpaid fines on overdue books. This may sound like a difficult proposition until you realize that, under the Patriot Act, the government knows where every single one of you literary scofflaws lives. You can run, but you can't hide.

Once she is elected by a landslide (unless Florida screws up again) it will then become my patriotic duty as First Toast to do, er, something. I'm not sure what yet; perhaps a campaign to make beer the National Beverage. Oh well, I've got plenty of time to work on it before her inauguration.

But seriously, folks (insert rimshot here, bada-BING) I am proud to report that my wife has just returned from attending a library conference in Washington, DC, where she has learned the latest skills to assist in her work spearheading the "Digital Projects" department at her library. This involves cataloging not just books, but a variety of physical objects in digital form so they can be researched and accessed electronically. As anyone who has done a Google search realizes, the future of libraries is becoming inextricably linked with that of Information Technology. Some people even wonder if brick-and-mortar libraries may eventually become obsolete; but in response to the question "do we still need books in the digital age?", Jessamine West at librarian.net writes:
Yes.

I guess my question for you is “Whose digital age?” because where I work, at public libraries in Central Vermont, the digital age is unfolding much more slowly and to much less fanfare than it is elsewhere. In a state where only 15-25% of the residents use broadband, the digital age is as much about hurdles and the threat of being left behind as it is about bold and shiny technological innovation and synthesis. Libraries and librarians help people not get left behind by technology, by democracy, and by people who think that libraries and technology can’t coexist and thrive symbiotically.

We need libraries in any age, they’re the human scale measurement for the information age.
While a vast quantity of information is available to anyone with a PC and an internet connection, sometimes the sheer volume of it can be overwhelming. Not only that, but how do you know if a source is trustworthy? The quality of information found on the web is not always accurate or reliable, and someone skilled in "knowledge management" -- a librarian -- can be an invaluable resource to separate the good data from the bad.

The "human touch" is still, and always will be, another important consideration. Public libraries typically provide services free of charge to anyone who wishes to use them. Many also provide literacy programs, reader development promotions, and act as a resource for the availability of local public services. They also help with special-needs groups such as children (including story-telling programs), or those who are housebound or visually impaired. Academic librarians like Mrs. Toast are especially important in educational institutions; they develop a wide range of services to meet the objectives of the students, faculty and administration. They encourage reading and research, and are among the most advanced in developing electronic services, including sophisticated teaching tools. The library is a centerpiece of college life, and one major factor affecting how Universities are ranked and compared is by the quality of their libraries.

In connection with her work, Mrs. Toast has been traveling extensively this spring. Prior to D.C. last month, she gave a presentation at a conference in Atlanta, and has other trips scheduled in the next couple of months. This means that I will have to fend for myself here at home for weeks at a time, and may need to call upon old long-lost bachelor skills such as ordering pizza and preparing frozen chicken pot-pies. I hope I survive.

Can anyone tell me how to open an orange without involving an electric drill?

2 Comments:

  • At 3/08/2007 09:00:00 PM, Blogger Sphincter said…

    I endorse you, Mrs. Toast! Need a running mate?

     
  • At 3/16/2007 12:09:00 AM, Blogger Ingrid said…

    hi Mr. Toast!!! Mrs. Toast has my vote!!! now Hilary should begin to rethink her strategy & whatever hidden agenda she may have, now with Mrs. Toast in the picture. when do we start doing our fundraising dinner?

     

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