Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Not So Trivial

There is a new show on the Discovery Channel called Cash Cab. It's a take-off of a British show (isn't that usually the case with entertaining shows? See Also: What Not To Wear). The premise behind the show is that unsuspecting New Yorkers hail a trivia cab, in which they're given the chance to answer questions for cash. Ah, brain candy for librarians!

Hubby and I listened to A.J. Jacob's book The Know It All: One Man's Humble Quest To Become the Smartest Person in the World on the way home for Christmas. It's a very entertaining and sometimes poignant look at his journey through reading the entire set of the 2002 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica. The author's aspiration was to be on Jeopardy, but I bet he'd do well on Cash Cab.

I've also been working on compiling the 80+ trivia questions for the annual Literacy Volunteers Trivia Bee (I'm on the board of directors. We're a very involved board.) It is getting more difficult over the years to find unique trivia using the library's resources. How is this possible? Well, the questions have to fit on a PowerPoint slide, not be so esoteric as to totally frustrate the audience, and they have to cover the gamut of subjects - science, pop culture, weather, astronomy, mathematics, literature, sports, and especially cartoons.

So all of this trivia that's been swirling around lately has me thinking - what makes up intelligence? Trivia certainly doesn't equal intelligence, although it seems that lots of Mensa members revel in trivial facts (see Jacob's comments in his book when he attends a Staten Island Mensa shindig). Is intelligence simply remembering facts and figures? No, I think it's more. Intelligence is the ability to make connections between facts and experience, and to then devise the best means of getting from A to B.

Librarians deal with facts and figures all day - everything from patron requests to balanacing budgets. I remember some of my patrons' inquiries, although certainly not all; often, they're the things that are unimportant to everyday life. The building of the Chunnel, who killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and the name of the Senator that spoke before Lincoln's Four Score speech have all stuck with me. I couldn't tell you the entire short text of Lincoln's speech, or explain Einstein's relativity theory to you, or even tell you what's on my grocery list at home. Why do some things stick in our memory but other things, most often the important things, fade away?

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Merry Christmas, Everyone

I love those end-of-the-year lists: Best/Worst Dressed, Top 10 Events, etc. We've seen to much happen to libraries this year -
Hurricane Katrina wiping out Southern libraries, another run at the Patriot Act, Google releasing a librarians' newsletter, Wikipedia gaining popularity, Firefox taking off, iPods for patrons, mergers, Gormangate, etc. etc. etc. Wow. I can't wait to see what next year brings. What developments do you see that are on the horizon for libraries?