It’s been a quiet month here at eclectic librarian dot net…. Actually, my non-digital life has been eventful and not at all quiet or boring. However, very little of it has been relevant to the focus of this blog, so I haven’t written much about it. Also, I’ve been saving my creative literary juices for an essay I am contributing to a book about electronic resource librarians. I will need every drop of those creative literary juices if I’m going to get anything decent cranked out. I’ll be happy when it’s done. Formal writing is unpleasant and bothersome.
One thing that I have learned about myself in writing this essay is that my perception of the digital revolution is skewed in a way I had never fully realized before. My family first purchased a PC in the late 1980s. It had two 5 1/4 inch floppy disk drives and no hard drive to speak of. The monitor was green monochrome, and although we had a mouse, we rarely needed to use it. In grade school through high school, I used various Apple computers and the occasional PC, but none of them were networked. I began college in 1994 and discovered the networked computer labs. My concept of the whole thing was still very hazy, but I understood that the computers were all connected to each other somehow, and more importantly, to the printer. In the spring of 1995, I received my first email account. I didn’t know anyone to email besides my friends at the university. I still remember a painful telephone conversation with the father of my high school best friend, trying to transcribe the @ symbol so I could email my friend. However, by the fall of 1996, my university connected with the World Wide Web, and a whole new world was opened up to me. I discovered Yahoo! and listservs and guitar tablature and and…
To me, the Internet began in 1995/1996. Over time, that has evolved to include integrated library systems, online public access catalogs, and just about anything electronic in libraries, even though I know better. In high school I used an OPAC terminal to look up books at my local public library, and I have vague recollections of using a telnet session to search ArticleFirst and WorldCat for research in the first few years of college. These things existed long before my experiences with the Internet, but over the years I have forgotten or ignored that fact, and it is coming back to haunt me now.
My essay is about the evolution of serials librarians to electronic resource librarians, where applicable. Once again, my own perspective has come in to trip me up. Before I started my research, I placed the beginning of the electronic revolution somewhere around 1999/2000. Probably because that is when I became more aware of electronic resources and ceased using print indexes for research. In reality, it was a decade or two earlier. My fear is that my skewed perceptions of the history of technology will taint the essay and make me look like a complete fool to my colleagues. Then again, if they have been reading this blog, they already know me for the fool I am.