Were you raised by computer-illiterate wolves?

It’s midterm time, and for most of us, that means we have a ridiculous amount of papers to write. Many of these papers require a few hours of research, and of course, this entails a trip to the library.

College libraries have always been impressive places to me. I love books and reading and appreciate the care and love colleges put into housing them. For instance, as much as I hate the University of Oregon, the Knight Library is a virtual palace for books. There is art everywhere, in the form of wrought iron gates and sculpted glass light covers.

At Portland State, what the Millar Library lacks in art, it makes up for in general design. There is little need for paintings on the walls, when there are huge windows to look out of. It’s also relatively easy to find things in the Millar Library.

I needed to make a sojourn to the library to investigate Supreme Court Justice Warren Burger. Not knowing where in the library to find information on Mr. Justice Burger, I decided to look on the Vikat search feature. There were lots of people at the Vikat computer stations, so I walked around them to see if one was open.

Several were not working, or I am too stupid to operate them properly. Anything that does not allow me to point and click is far too complicated for my limited computer skills. All the other computers were otherwise occupied.

On my right, there was a boy who was chatting on yahoo.com. I kept wondering why he kept stealing furtive glances at me. To my left, I saw a notice that outlined the appropriate uses for these particular computers. Games and chat were not included.

I walked around the bank of computers again. Only one person was using a library search tool. I circumambulated the computers again, this time looking pissed and saying the f-word under my breath, hoping vainly that one of these chatting jerk-offs would get the hint and relinquish his computer (yes, it was all boys abusing the computers). Of course no one did.

The woman who had been using the search tool finished and I swooped in on her computer, finding no less than FOUR titles on Warren Burger. The most important of these was checked out, but that’s a different subject.

I wondered why no one was enforcing the rules posted on the notice. Two of the chatters were chatting in full view of someone who looked like a library employee. I also noticed that a few of the chatters were non-students. It was pretty obvious. They had no books and looked way too young, among other clues.

That really made me angry, because there are computers at the Multnomah County Library expressly for Internet browsing and what-not. These particular computers are for STUDENTS who need to look up research materials. They are not for chatting with your Internet girlfriend, the Swedish model, who would come visit you if she weren’t so busy with photo shoots. Do that on your own time my friend, or on a computer designated for such a purpose.

There are computers all over campus. There is a computing lab in Shattuck Hall, as well as a host of smaller departmental labs. I have a nice quiet lab I like to go to when I am working on papers or just feel like wasting my time on the Internet.

Which leads me to my next point. Since we are sharing these computers, and there are times when space is at a premium, pay attention to what you are doing. Are you working on a 10-page paper for your Medieval Literature class or are you checking football scores? Football scores are not important. It can wait, even if you had a lot of money on the game. Give your computer to the anxious-looking person waiting by the wall. She’s probably anxious about the paper she was supposed to write about a Supreme Court Justice that was due two weeks ago. Give her some piece of mind. Give her your computer.