As we’ve been putting books into boxes and taking them to the storage unit, I’ve noticed how empty the house has become.
Both my wife and I are engineers and often, we will be looking for a reference. Usually we will look on the bookshelves for the answer, rather than getting on the computer and “looking it up on the internet”.
It doesn’t matter if the reference need is for a technical fact, a historical fact, or a local interest fact. What often happens is we will find other interesting things during our search process and after we’ve taken care of our immediate concern, we’ll go back and look at the other things we have found. It’s similar to looking up a word in a dictionary and, while doing that, looking at other words that one has never seen, nor considered, before.
A few days ago, my wife was looking for a table of nuclear cross sections and in the process of finding that reference, she put another book on top of the bookcase so she could find it later. After she was done with the nuclear stuff, she sat down and started reading the book she had put aside–a book on early American naval battles in upstate New York.
For me, I found a cookbook while looking for a book on gravity cells (an early type of battery that was used to power the telegraphs “way back when”). I found what I needed about the gravity cell and then I ended up baking some biscuits from a recipe in the cookbook.
Using the internet is far more efficient. For me, I would have typed the words gravity cell into my favorite search engine and I would have ended up with a long list of references. But, this is sometimes too efficient.
Had either of us used the internet for doing our research, we would have quickly found the facts we needed, but we would have done little to expand our knowledge. She wouldn’t have learned about naval battles in upstate New York and we wouldn’t have eaten the wonderful garlic-cheese biscuits.
While packing up the books, both my wife and I keep coming across things that attract our interest, but we have to keep packing the books into the boxes..and temporarily making things worse.
My wife said she is looking forward to when the books will be back on the shelves and, again, a part of our lives.
And I agree.