Everything goes BOOM!

“There’s always a boom. After a while . . . BOOM!”

–Lt. Cmdr. Susan Ivanova


It’s Thursday, November 1, 2012. (Happy Day of the Dead!) Metropolitan College of New York remains closed until Monday morning due to the continued power outage in lower Manhattan. Which is just as well, because without power the subways aren’t running, which means I can’t get to work physically. The phones are out, but the school website and emergency text services work, as they are off-site services. Unfortunately, the mail server, which is local, is also out. So not only can’t I check my work e-mail, but the webinar links and contact information I needed to learn more about RDA yesterday are sitting, unused and unusable, on my work server. No working from home, either, it seems.

We rely on electricity to make our library work properly. Without it, it’s just a room at the top of a tall building with too many stairs to climb. No databases, no online catalog, no ILS, no contact with our own materials. I remain convinced that this is a real weakness in how we run libraries. Electric current is a marvel, and we rely on it almost completely at this moment in time. So completely that it becomes part of the background noise of our lives, noticeable primarily in its absence when it goes boom and vanishes.

At times like this, I wish we had a card catalog.

This is not a universal situation: there are libraries with power offering their services to hurricane Sandy’s victims. And power outages are only part of the story for libraries which claimed damage from the storm: collections are waterlogged, equipment damaged, and entire buildings remain flooded as I write this. Intellectually, I get that my building was luckier than some. Which leaves me feeling safe, but useless.

I am looking forward to re-opening the doors to our students and faculty on Monday morning.



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