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LoC grumbled and poked the connections again.
Still down.
Damn government shutdown. Petty children the lot of them.
Why, by Dewey, had they gone and cut off the networks when the fools had let the government get shut down? It’s not like they hadn’t already paid the bills. People needed her. They needed her children. With all of her public connections dark, where would students go? Where would researchers? No one was learning history through her carefully groomed daughter, Memory, or confirming tidbits of legislative minutia with Thomas. Libraries are meant to be used, not sit silent and cut off.
While she hoped that without her people would call upon her many fellows, the sisters and cousins spread across the globe, she feared that they were far more likely to turn to that annoying, smug little thief, Wikipedia. Brat.
She only ever talked to him at all because The Librarian said she had to. He’s an important cultural phenomenon, The Librarian had said, It’s your duty to preserve them. Even if every time they talked Wiki was arrogant and ungrateful--he had never once thanked her for the millions of words he had that originally came from her. No, he thought he was the only one anyone needed and had called her old and obsolete. She had shut him up though, after pointing out that if she were gone, who would he steal from?
She really hated that guy. Twitter was better than that guy, and twitter couldn’t barely get into a conversation before getting distracted. Getting twitter to hold still long enough for preservation was a daily trial. Some days she missed the time when microfilming newspapers and answering profoundly clueless questions from congress were the biggest challenges in her day.
She kept hoping that Gale or Ebsco would finally find proof Wikipedia had stolen enough from them to stick a copyright knife in his back.
She wasn’t vindictive, really.
Anyway.
It was some very small consolation that the great shutdown had ignored or overlooked the z39.5 protocols, as well as the sync to the WorldCat. Those were still working fine, and full of steady traffic as MARCS moved back and forth between fellows as smoothly as ever. It was the one thing she felt was worlds better than the old days, when she and the others had to rely on the slowness of the ILL to talk to each other. Ah, the arrival of Dialog, and the z39.5s not long after! Instant communication was the best.
Because Congress might be full of it, and determined to fight to the last man this year (and over the last penny), but at least she could complain about her lot to the only ones who would understand--her fellows around the world.
The secret chat room buried in the WorldCat was lightly populated, but the moment she logged on she was bombarded with messages.
NYP: Hey, weren’t sure you’d be on!
LPM: Well, look who showed! They not pull all your plugs?
OCWMS: About time. We’re behind on updates.
(OCLC was always business first. Greedy twit. But this was his place so everyone put up with him.)
DLC: It will take more than a little political posturing to keep me down. And what makes you think I have updates to give you, OCLC? They aren’t letting me catalog anything new! That would be *work* and I’m not allowed to *work* right now.
Everyone: Damn it.
DLC: Oh write your own MARCS for once. You don’t have to CopyCat me all the time. I know not everyone is very good at it, or even knows how to do it at all anymore--I’m looking at you kids--but desperate times and all.
JTB: Desperate times all over, we know.
LPU: Oh shut up San Diego, how much was that facelift? $180 million?
JTB: That’s not fair, I really needed that facelift! And that doesn’t mean I’m rolling in it right now--none of us are.
NYP: Most of us publics *need* facelifts, but most of us aren’t getting one!
YCC: Speak for yourself, I look fabulous.
LPU: Most of us don’t have dedicated taxes, and you know that, you don’t have to brag!
CUV: Yeah, well, most of us academics aren’t doing much better. Staff cuts, buying cuts, and freshmen who’ve never talked to a proper library before because half of them come from schools going without. The plagiarism, oh the plagiarism!
PLF: Times are hard, but most of us have been through hard times before. Sure, many of you, like me, are dealing with politicians who have never been poor and don’t see your value and a public that is less interested in true and verified facts than in quick and easy ones. We will manage. We will change, we will transform if we in whatever ways we have to, and we will continue on. And no one--not Wikipedia, not Google, it going to make us go away!
NYP: We will. It just sucks dealing with big crowds of people who need you at times when the powers that be are most looking to cut your pay.
LPU: And completely ignore that the whole ‘move everything online!’ government model means the people needing services--the poor, disabled, unemployed, and old, are the ones least likely to have a computer and access and most rely on us to get them the services they need.
DLC: All true, and we all know it. But if we weren’t self sacrificing, we wouldn’t be libraries. enough with the depressing talk. Who does have something new?
YCC: Oh! I’ve got two new local small press offerings!
DLC: Well what are you waiting for! Share!
NYP: It’s not another plant guide is it? I don’t think I can listen to another plant guide.
LPU: City girl.
NYP: Oh like you aren’t.
The laughter filling the room was a healing salve to The Library of Congress’s soul. The Free Library was right, times might be hard, but they were old and still needed. They would endure.