Thursday, October 14, 2010

My Home, The Library

Old acquaintances of mine sometimes remark on how odd it is that I followed my Master of Fine Arts degree with a career in the software business. Presumably I should be schlepping away somewhere as an adjunct English professor earning wages that would shame an indentured servant. But it begins to make more sense when I tell them that EnvisionWare, Inc. makes software (and hardware) for libraries.

You see, I grew up in libraries. I spent nearly every free minute in them, and I learned more from the books contained therein than I ever did from my teachers. In fact, I would often go to the library and read books of my choosing in place of the books my teachers had assigned me. I can recite to you a long list of the libraries that I have called home over the course of my life: Washburn Public Library, Hennepin County Library, Kitsap Regional Library, Athens Clarke-County Library, Ogeechee Branch Library (Savannah), Statesboro Regional Library, New Hanover County Public Library, Scottsdale Public Library, Phoenix Public Library, Tempe Public Library, and the respective libraries of the University of Georgia, Armstrong Atlantic University, University of North Carolina-Wilmington, Arizona State University, and Scottsdale Community College. That’s a lot of buildings and a lot of books through the years, and there’s a good chance I can tell you where the fiction, biography, music, and history sections are located in each. They are more familiar in my memory than the apartments and houses in which I’ve lived.

I wish I could convey the palpable thrill I feel walking amongst stacks of books. It’s known as bibliophilia, or “the gentle madness,” and you either have it or you don’t. I’ve sacrificed a big chunk of my social life to the gentle madness but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. When I crack open a volume of Mark Twain, Coleridge, or Philip K. Dick the pages hum with a still-living energy that has been alchemically transmuted from the brain of the writer into words, and then from those words into my brain. The library is the middleman in the delivery of the imagination drug to the dreamers.

EnvisionWare is a direct player in all this. Somewhere in the world right now, the next Stephen King is checking out a stack of books that he could not otherwise afford.  Maybe he’s got some H.P. Lovecraft, Robert Bloch, P.D. James, Daphne De Maurier, and William S. Burroughs tucked under his arm. And you know what? He’s probably scanning them at an EnvisionWare® OneStop™. Then he walks out through EnvisionWare® RFID gates. Four weeks later, ensnared in the clutches of Cthulu and the horrible squid beast, he nevertheless manages to wrest himself free long enough to pay down his fines via the EnvisionWare® eCommerce Services™ Web Module so he can hold on to old Lovecraft just a little while longer.

So no, it’s not odd at all that I work for a software company. I facilitate the delivery of the imagination drug.


  1. Quite a testimony there Mr. Robert! You install the hardware that makes it possible while I now, install the library websites that point them in the right direction! Go Libraries!!

  2. Aw, shucks. Thanks, Terry! Libraries are definitely the new cool place to be.