Thursday, November 13, 2008

Read It Again, Sam!

If all the books I have ever read were able to parade into this house and stack themselves against the walls, we would have to move out! When the children were little, it was very difficult to actually finish a book a week; so those people who don’t have children must have a much longer list of books than mine. My mother, father, and brother have always seemed to simply consume books the way some people eat potato chips—by the bag full. Amazing!

Attempting to ‘clean out’ the bookcases may be one of the more difficult chores for this family. Which books are really ‘necessary’ and which can be tossed or donated? Do we keep that ancient crumbling copy of Dodge Engines and Their Repair? What about A Guide to Old English? Somehow I honestly don’t think that either of us will ever need these books again.

One excuse for my own collection may no longer hold water: one of the children ‘might’ need a book on some particular subject. The Complete Works of Jack London might go to one of the children or grandchildren, but An Anthology of Modern English Poetry is not going to contain any of the ‘modern’ poetry from this generation. Sigh.

Some of the same problems we had in determining what to do with records and albums have now surfaced with VHS tapes and cassettes. We have outlived the technology of our youth. Our grandchildren wouldn’t even know how to play a 45 rpm record. They might know how to use a cassette tape, but in another ten years, children may wonder what those are and how they were used.

Today newspapers still have an appeal that online news sources, radio, and TV have not quite eclipsed. Something solid is in a piece of newsprint that announces certain accomplishments. The Internet seems so ephemeral in its content and capacity. And reading an e-book can be wonderfully cheap, satisfying, and otherwise brilliant, but being able to underline certain phrases in a book has never been more satisfying to some of us than it is now. No, the economic impact of the Web has definitely affected our local newspapers, but enough old timers still exist to keep ‘The Paper’ a necessity for our community.

Many of the stories we see in ‘The Paper’ seem to come straight off the Web, but enough local interest stories exist to keep most of us reading and waiting for our own particular brand of outlook. And let’s face it: a local newspaper reflects local values, concerns, and our particular needs. Generally speaking, we don’t really give a rat’s patootie that some idiot so-called man is in his second pregnancy. Our concern is for the young girls in our own community who should not yet be mothers. Economic stimuli for the nation matter to us, but jobs for the unemployed matter more. The cost of community services, the availability of good schools, and the future of our area: these are our immediate concerns. For these concerns, we have our local newspaper. Tomorrow I will pick up a copy and look at ‘the news.’

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