WILL UNWOUND #741: “Long live the Dinosaur”April 24, 2012
The word “dinosaur” has been thrown around a lot lately in Will Unwound.
Basically, it is being used by librarian newbies to stereotype the generation of librarians they wish would get off stage so that they can move into their jobs and carry the profession forward into the brave new world of who knows what.
The implication is clear. A dinosaur is a creature that could not adapt to a changing environment and thus became extinct. The old librarians who started in the days of date due stamps and card catalogs are a) are the road to extinction and b) taking libraries with them on that road.
But is the dinosaur really extinct? Every Thursday I volunteer at my grandson’s elementary school library and without a doubt the hottest non-fiction subject that the students (I’m talking kindergarten through 8th grade) are interested in is the subject of dinosaurs. It has gotten to the point where I have set aside a special shelf with a special sign just for the dinosaur books.
The most interesting reference question I have had in my year of volunteering was from a second grade boy: “Mr. Manley, why did God make dinosaurs?”
You have to understand that this is a Catholic school and so this question was as much theological as biological.
I thought for a while and then said, “God created the dinosaurs because he wanted to create a grand and fascinating creature that would disappear in a cloud of mystery.”
The little boy persisted…”But why?”
“So that little boys like you would would become hooked on reading.”
This made immediate sense to my little friend who looked up at me and said, “Thanks, Mr. Manley. Now can you get some new books about dinosaurs?”