typebitten librarian

Awesomeness. Just read the article in the NYT Click, Clack, Ding! Sigh… about the resurgence of interest in typewriters. Welcome to the club newbies.

I own four or five manual typewriters, but stopped at that because I have a problem with collecting things that I’m curbing. Gosh, NYT, you’re very late to the party. Must say I was late to it too, when I started acquiring them six or eight years ago.

Anyway, just as there are folks who love books, and love vinyl records, there are people who love to write longhand notes or even type notes.

But, the thing is this: When you spend any time at all moving your hands on typewriter keyboards you learn that it’s not all fun and games. The flat computer keyboards we’re accustomed to are super responsive. Think power brakes or power steering on your car as opposed to the old stuff. Wait, but if you’re a young thing who cannot leave her mother, then you know nothing of old cars and old keyboards.

Before you peruse antique stores and tag sales, beware. Typing on old-fashioned keyboards is tough work.

Start slow. Build up your speed. Build up a rhythm. It takes time. There are blogs like Adventures in Typewriting and Strikeththru. I only learned about them, because I’m just not so into my manual typewriters anymore.

Sometimes library patrons ask to use a typewriter. I lead them into the private departments and offer one of the rarely-used machines growing dusty from neglect.

I remember when my beloved public library offered typewriters. They boasted a private room off to the side with three or four cubicles duded out with typewriters where folks sat and typed. Often I’d hanged out and typed. But just for fun.

Because, here’s the kicker: By the age of eleven I OWNED MY OWN ELECTRIC TYPEWRITER.

I’m that geeky. Yes, I asked my grandmother for a typewriter for Christmas and she gave me one. Also asked for binoculars one year, too. Can you image what type of child I was?

So I wanted that typewriter because I was creative and imagined writing plays, short stories, radio programs, and I was a correspondent with my pen pals and grandmothers. I compiled a cookbook from my mother’s recipes. Later, in junior high school, I typed my book reports on China and other countries.

All of this reminds me of something I saw a few days ago. I haven’t read the numerous comments, but there’s this post at Make that suggests that public libraries should be remade into techshops. My first thought was: Duh. This person knows nothing about what libraries have historically offered to patrons. I mean, geez, public libraries offer EVERYTHING to folks. And, also, let’s think about funding. Public library budgets are being cut and—oh, what’s his name Phillip Torrone— suggests that they spend dwindling resources on hi-tech equipment for a very specialized demographic.

It’s a provocative article. And the thing that immediately springs to my mind is infoshops. Oh well. It’s interesting though. Librarians always talk about how we cannot be all things to all people, but this is an example of how one person wants us to be everything to everyone. Should public libraries provide unlimited resources to people who are unaffiliated with an academic institution who typically could provide access to such resources? Or, should folks just bite the bullet and go to Kinkos—ooops, guess it’s the Fed Ex center now.

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