I, having vowed not to buy any more books this year, am now visiting the Bellevue Library every week. Two weeks ago I brought home Mark Bostridge's "Florence Nightingale- The Making of an Icon".
I am halfway through it, but yesterday decided to drop in again to see what was there and to drop off "Antiques for Dummies". A book that may be useful to me someday, if I ever have money again, but is not useful today.
The Bellevue Library is small, and rumor for the past few years has had it being rebuilt larger and better over in the abandoned Mall or in a field behind the Bellevue Middle School. I have my doubts. I would not put it past Metro Nashville to not re-build at all. I would not put it past them to close it down and make everyone drive to Green Hills.
But until what happens happens, it is a useful place for finding cookbooks and biographies, though its fiction section is heavy on the Patterson and Koontz and light on the old dead novelists, who people in Bellevue don't seem to read anyway.
I found some interesting cookery books yesterday, most of them Southern. "Miss Mary Bobo's Boarding House Cookbook". "Martha's at the Plantation-Seasonal Recipes from Belle Meade". "A Gracious Plenty-Recipes and Recollections from the American South", written by John T. Edge, of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at Ole Miss. (More on these in future posts).
When I took these books to the desk, a smiling older lady checked them out for me, but mentioned twice that I needed to learn how to bar-code scan them out myself in the future, and that she would show me how next time. "We are not busy today", she said," But other days we might be, and we might not be able to help you".
This bothered me, and only after a night's sleep did I realize why.
Were I to go back to the library today, this is what I would like to say:
" Ma'am, be very careful about letting a machine take over your job. If a human asks a human to check out a book, do it without question, for therein lies your livelihood. What will the Cutters say when they see, and they will see, that 98% of your patrons bar code their own books.
They will see that they can eliminate another job. Perhaps yours. Perhaps your friend's."
See what has happened to telephone operators. Remember the last time you were marooned in a phone tree. Try getting a human at Bank of America when someone has stolen money from your account.
A friend, who still works at the hospital I worked for for twenty seven years ,tells me that Human Resources and Payroll are no longer in the hospital. They are not even in Tennessee, having been moved to Corporate headquarters in the Midwest.
Where is the person you talked to about your 401K? Gone. Where is the person in Payroll you talked to when you forgot to clock in for your shift? Gone. Replaced by a computerized time clock that makes each worker "approve" their time so a computer can tell a computer how much to pay you. No humans involved. Job by job, people disappear.
And if you cook burgers at McDonald's, or are an RN bar coding your patient's armband and the medicines you are giving him, be aware that out there there is someone working on a robot to replace you.
Humans are becoming superfluous. "Think!",cry the corporations, "How much money we could make, if we did not have to employ YOU!"
This is what I would say to the Library Lady.