Yes, But Can a Robot Tell a Hobo to Stop Looking at Porn?

Soon, a master’s in library science will join the ever-growing ranks of useless degrees; relax, philosophy, you’re still number one. At San Francisco State, the stacks will be largely off-limits, and a library-robot will retrieve your requests for you:

The books on display will be high-demand volumes, recently published titles and those recommended by various departments. The rest will remain in five storage units rising three stories high. Books are retrieved by a robotic arm activated by an electronic prompt. Retrieval time is supposed to be 5 to 10 minutes.

Apparently the new library arrangement emphasizes the sociability of the library; because if there’s one thing a scholar goes to the library for it’s some social time with friends and an overheard conversation about how Becky needs to stop shaving her pubes in the shower.

Not surprisingly, some stodgy bastards aren’t completely excited about a robot fetching Aquinas’ commentaries on Aristotle. Peter Orner, a creative writing professor, dislikes the modifications: “There’s a trend now where books are being stored in big vats and they aren’t available for us to touch and see,” he said.

“I wouldn’t be a writer if, when I was an undergraduate at the University of Michigan, I didn’t wander the open stacks,” he said. “I would argue strongly that the Internet is not a substitute for a college library.”

I agree with Orner; the writing process is greatly enhanced by browsing the stacks for inspiration. There’s nothing like seeing the connections between the works on various authors, or realizing that you’re holding the key 20th century interpretation of Hegel’s influence on Marxist dialectical materialism.

Plus, the lesser browsed stacks make perfect places to fart.

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5 thoughts on “Yes, But Can a Robot Tell a Hobo to Stop Looking at Porn?

  1. Considering that undergrads/most people can’t even find something in a database and hardly ever know what they are looking for, I don’t really see this being a sustainable solution to not wanting to pay a professional.
    That being said, I’m glad I don’t plan on using my MLIS degree!

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