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Monday, 23 June 2014

The joy of living in the world's most comprehensive library

From time to time I wonder how long it would take me do my writing if I didn't have access to the Internet. There is no coming up with a precise answer, but I feel sorry for the diminishing number of writers who have to rely on visits to reference libraries for much of their information.

Out of curiosity, I made a note one day of the number of times I used Internet search engines to help me with my work. Here are just some examples:

1) How is an American ambassador addressed formally?

2) Is the fictional name I am giving the ambassador likely to cause problems because it is similar or identical to the name of a living person who is, or was, an ambassador?

3) Learn the age of a prominent politician.

4) Check the spellings of several place names.

5) Check the history of Jim Beam whiskey.

6) Seek the Arabic translation of a few simple English-language greetings?

7) Check the precise name of a film and when it was released.

8) Study photographs of Middle Eastern streets damaged by shelling.

9) Check the official title of a government minister.

10) Confirm that a former prominent celebrity is still alive.

So, these are just 10 examples, but there were many more. How much time would have been taken up out of my day if I had needed to check my limited selection of reference books, or to go down to the local library? Probably all day, is the answer -- which means that I would not have made any progress with my writing.

The Internet is a truly wonderful addition to modern life, but it must make for tough times with many libraries. That is a downside of the Internet.

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