Check Her Out

Career librarian Toni Garvey's big win was long overdue

NT: Maybe you've heard about a little thing called the Internet?

Garvey: The Internet can be very confusing. There's a lot of information there, a great deal of which doesn't go through any kind of editorial process. And remember that in this country there are those who don't have access to the Internet outside of work. Or outside of a library. And people need help with [accessing the Internet], which libraries can provide, by saying, "Here's the best database for what you're looking for."

NT: Don't get me wrong. I like libraries. And I miss card catalogs.

Garvey: I've often wondered if there shouldn't be some sort of support group for people who miss card catalogs. I think the only people who miss them are those who never had to file cards in card catalogs. Trust me!

NT: But regardless of how you or I feel about libraries, they might one day be unnecessary.

Garvey: But even as we evolve into a community which does its own banking at the ATM, bags its own groceries, we still crave community. And a library is a place where you can interact with other people, whether you're looking for something to read or just using the building.

NT: You mean like all the homeless people who take naps on the fifth floor of the downtown library?

Garvey: Use of the library by someone who's homeless isn't necessarily inappropriate use of the library! If we notice that someone is here just for napping, we'll usually say something to them about it. But there's something truly wonderful and very welcoming about the library: You open the doors, and as long as you're interested in the services contained there, you're welcome. We're not going to ask you for money. We don't want anything from you. The library is the most democratic institution in the country. It's a very American thing.

E-mail robrt.pela@newtimes.com

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