or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk

What Do To When Authors Die

   March 13th, 2015 Brian Herzog

Terry Pratchett died this week, and I, like many people, were saddened.

I came to the Discworld books later in my life, sort of by accident (which is the best way to come across books like the Discworld books), and to say I liked them is an understatement. It was more like the worlds and characters had just been waiting for me and were happy to have me turn up.

It wasn't until later that I realized I had already read some Pratchett, without knowing it. His book, Good Omens, co-written with Neil Gaiman, was another I had inadvertently come to on my own, on the shelf in an independent book shop in Yellow Springs, Ohio. I can't say it changed my life, but I thoroughly enjoyed it, and was also introduced to Neil Gaiman that way. I somehow missed the introduction to Terry Pratchett, but since I got there in the end, I suppose it is okay.

Perhaps because of this, but perhaps also just because they are similar and the connection is logical, I have always linked Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman in my head.

So when I came across the following line while reading Neil Gaiman's Trigger Warning today (specifically in the story, The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury), I couldn't help but be reminded of Terry Pratchett's death:

I sometimes imagine I would like my ashes to be scattered in a library. But then the librarians would just have to come in early the next morning to sweep them up again, before the people got there.

Very appropriate on many levels, but it also seems that there is hardly a tribute fitting enough for such a creative and prolific writer as Terry Pratchett.

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Recently Noticed Library References

   May 12th, 2009 Brian Herzog

empty shelvesOver the weekend I found two references to libraries that I thought people would enjoy.

I just finished reading Guards! Guards!, by Terry Pratchett. It's a Discworld novel, and featured one of my favorite characters, the Librarian (of course). The plot is a bit complex, but I don't think this quote needs any setup:

Somehow, though, to a soul attuned to the subtle rhythms of a library, there are few worse sights than a hole where a book ought to be.

Someone had stolen a book.

Funny, because I get this same sinking feeling every time I'm pulling requested books, and the one I'm looking for is missing - the feeling is doubled when there's a gap in that spot on the shelf. Well captured, Sir Terry.

The second reference came when I was taking a Web 3.0 quiz on HowStuffWorks.com. Things were going along fine until I got to Question 9:

If the Web 1.0 experience is like going to a library and the Web 2.0 experience is like talking with a group of friends, what will the Web 3.0 experience be like?

  • having a personal assistant
  • going to class in a university lecture hall
  • going to a movie theater with every film and television show available to watch any time you like

Oh really? Libraries are like Web 1.0?

But the quizzes are interesting, so check out the whole list.

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