I spent the majority of my day wandering from place to place on campus. While documenting this adventure, an interesting thing happened around Boneyard Creek. A man approached me, had to be in his 70’s. No one else wears a fanny pack (tourists and my father aside). He introduced himself as Bob and asked me about my camera. More specifically, about what camera he should purchase (he has been thinking about getting a new one). I told him that he asked the wrong brother, that my brother is the photo-journalist and camera enthusiast of the family. But we kept talking, despite my lack of useful information. The conversation turned digital. Technology is amazing, isn’t it? We agreed. Though I admitted it had its limitations. There is a certain feeling in holding a book and turning the pages that cannot be achieved scrolling with a mouse on a screen. And a funny thing happened when I said this. Bob began to talk. Just to tell me things. As it turned out, he volunteers one day a week at the Champaign public library – digitizing books and poetry. I told him about my librarian parents, about my own job in the University stacks. He laughed, told me working in a library is the best job in the world. Though he hasn’t had much of a chance to travel, Bob finds worlds in books. The library has it all, he said. I believed him; I was raised to believe him. And the conversation took another unexpected turn: his current project has been digitizing the works of Carl Sandburg. He asked if I had heard of him, and I replied that I had not. My current project, Bob told me, should be reading the works of Carl Sandburg. He expounded on the author’s biography: a Swedish-American author born right here in Illinois (Galesburg to be precise). He asked if he was boring me. Quite truthfully, I said no. And we talked for nearly an hour. Finally, we shook hands and parted ways: me wishing him luck with his camera, Bob wishing me luck with my writing.
Meeting Bob & what I saw there.