Anyone who's read this column more than once knows how much I love books. Next to wife and family, I can think of nothing I love more than a good, well-written story. But great reading is not the exclusive province of books. Indeed, one of the true joys in life is to pick up a newspaper or magazine and find a story that utterly changes your view of the world. I found such a piece in the February 17, 2014, edition of The New Yorker, an article so meaty and relevant to the future of libraries and reading (and, by extension, civilization itself) that I wanted desperately to recommend it to everyone I know. But the problem is this is a back-issue of The New Yorker most people will be unable to find ... unless, of course, they have a library card.
With a Talbot County Free Library card you can access the library's online databases and find and read back issues of The New Yorker, Scientific American, Consumer Reports, Forbes, and over 1,600 other periodicals-absolutely free of charge. And those periodicals represent only a fraction of the offerings to be found in our “Masterfile Premier” database, which, in turn, represents only a fraction of the databases to which your library card makes you privy.
The next problem, of course, is that word “databases.” Computer jargon, necessarily, is coined by computer geeks. Only someone whose idea of fun involves algorithms could come up with a name like "database" for the treasure trove of information that, in a less bloodless age, would have been called “The Comstock Lode” or “King Solomon's Mines.” But don't let the terminology scare you off. This particular seam of gold is easy to find and exploit.
From your home computer or one of the library's public ones, go to the library's website (www.tcfl.org). About halfway down the page on the left, click on the link that reads “online journals and databases.” On the page that then comes up, you can choose whichever category interests you (Automobile Repair, Genealogy, Languages, etc.), but to reach The New Yorker article, click on “Newspapers and Magazines.” On the next page click on “MasterFILE Premier.” After that you'll need to type in your library card number and click “Login.” On the EBSCO page that comes up, you'll find a blue border across the top. The second word from the left within that blue border is “Publications.” Click on “Publications.” On the next page you will see two search boxes, the one at the top labelled “Search” and the next one down “Browse.” Place your cursor in the box next to the “Browse” button and type the words ”New Yorker.” Now you will get an alphabetized list of publications that starts with “New Yorker.” Click on “New Yorker” and you will then see a list of the most recent editions by month. Click on “February 2014” and then on “2/17/2014.” A table of contents for that issue will appear. Scroll down through the titles till you find “Cheap Words” and then click on it. The article I'm hoping you'll read will appear magically before your eyes. Here endeth the lesson.
Oh, and if you get a chance, do stop by the library and let me know what you think of “Cheap Words.”