It's been a long time since I visited the public library in our town. Not much has changed in those years. I walked in the front door and it still had that familiar smell.
As a kid I always viewed the library as the ultimate place of leaning. School was to confining and at a young age I figured out that school in general was not really a place of learning but a place of conformance. A system, just like paying your taxes or driving a car. The library on the other hand was a place of pure knowledge or entertainment.
If you are a 12 year old and your interested in splitting the atom, there was no one there to tell you that you wouldn't understand the subject. You looked up the subject in the card catalog and started looking at books on that subject. As simple as that.
As I got older and had disposable income and transportation I fell in love with the book store. Here I could own the same volumes that I could only examine for 2 weeks at time.
So tonight I went to the library. While the building and smells hadn't changed any I found one this missing. The card catalog was no longer in it's little drawers. No, I looked around and found that the card catalog storage boxes had been turned around and are now used as display tables for art or the book club book of the month.
I have to say I was a little embarrassed to ask where the cards where and I didn't. I found the data terminal. Well don't let me sugar coat it, a Pentium 166 running a terminal emulator giving me access to an IBM database sitting on some AS/400 somewhere in the state of Illinois.
It still worked the same, look up the book find the Dewey Decimal number and find the book, but for some reason I was sad the the little cards where no longer in use. I signed up for another library card and will make it a point to visit the library again.