Why I Love My Library
Memories of a Research Paper – by Ellen Butler
“Before Google, we had the library,” is a recent comment I muttered to my middle school child. To my son, the library is a place to find his favorite fiction series, a place to play on the computer, or to participate in a craft program. However, to those of us who were children of the seventies, eighties and nineties, the library was a different place.
The library was the physical Google of our time. Searching for information wasn’t a simple tap of the computer keys. Fingers received paper cuts flipping through hundreds of card catalog files in search of the right title. Then, once you identified the book you were looking for, the Dewey Decimal system sent you off on another adventure into the stacked rows of research material to find the coveted tome, often only to realize it had already been checked out by one of your other classmates who got there first. Occasionally, the card catalog would send you off to the wall of filing cabinet drawers to hunt through boxes of microfiche. After finding the proper yellow box, you’d head over to the clunky microfiche readers to spend twenty minutes searching the tiny film for the single article you needed to complete your research. If you’d procrastinated and didn’t have time to do the card catalog thing, you might take the lazy man’s way out and simply rely on the encyclopedia to provide the answers you needed. One just had to hope the information was still relevant or that your library received the regular supplements. Those of you who are old enough to remember the Dewey Decimal system, encyclopedias and card catalogs are nodding your heads right now, whereas the Millennials are simply scratching theirs.
One thing libraries taught us was patient research skills. We’ve become a society so used to having the answer to any question in the universe at our fingertips, what once used to take half a day to find, we impatiently grumble at our phones and computers waiting the twenty seconds for the page to load. Don’t get me wrong, as an author, I love the convenience of conducting research online in the comfort of my own home. However, the library still holds me in its clutches. I often find myself spending the afternoon banging out a few chapters on my laptop at one of the long tables, now equipped with convenient plugs and ergonomic chairs. Only, instead of perusing the card catalog, I log into the free wi-fi to get my answers, and most of the books I check out are fiction novels for my own reading enjoyment, or children’s books for the kids.
The Brass Compass
A beautiful American spy flees into the night. On her own, she must live by her wits to evade capture and make it to the safety of the Allied forces.
Lily Saint James grew up traveling the European continent, learning languages as she went. In 1938, her mother’s abrupt death brings her back home to Washington, D.C., and after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Lily comes to the attention of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). Her knowledge of German, French, and Italian makes her the perfect OSS Agent, and her quick thinking places her as a nanny in the household of an important German Army Colonel, where she is able to gather intelligence for the Allies. After her marketplace contact goes missing, she makes a late-night trip to her secondary contact only to find him under interrogation by the SS. When he commits suicide, she flees into the frigid winter night carrying false identification papers that are now dangerous and a mini film cartridge with vital strategic information. In order to survive, Lily must make it out of Germany, into the hands of Allied-controlled France, through a path fraught with peril.
Ellen Butler is a novelist writing critically acclaimed suspense thrillers, and award winning romance. The Brass Compass was inspired by the brave women who served in the OSS, British Special Operations Executive and French Resistance. Ellen is a member of The OSS Society and her fascination with WWII history originally piqued when her grandfather revealed his role as a cryptographer during the war. The Brass Compass is her debut into the historical fiction genre. She also holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration and Policy, and her history includes a long list of writing for dry, but illuminating, professional newsletters and windy papers on public policy. She lives in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C. with her husband and two children.