Today we bring you the final installment of our Futurist Library Contest with a story written by our 2nd-runner-up, Patrick Waugh.
If you’re going to miss these brilliant stories, let us know! We’re always open to more contest ideas!
Library: 2025 by Patrick Waugh
Hana Sagong walked briskly through the automatic doors, entering the cold lobby of her university’s library. The polished, white skeleton of the library supported an overarching ceiling made of hundreds of glass panels. As the sun reached noon, the panels reflexively adopted a blue-green tint, shading the students working below. Hana was completing her BSN, hoping to qualify for graduate study in nursing.
The reference library saw Hana rapidly approaching and prepared to blurt his line.
“Can I help you?” he said.
“I need to find an anatomy book. I need something that shows an oropharynx”, Hana demanded. Nursing students are a bundle of nerves wrapped around a benevolent heart.
The reference librarian flipped a switch and the 16’’ x 12’’ panel in front of Hana lit up. The panel was supported by a mechanical arm. Inside of a black frame, the panel displayed a screen filled with small, shiny squares. One of the squares jumped and a new screen opened. Beyond the panel in front of Hana, the librarian was busily manipulating an identical device. Hana’s screen displayed everything that the librarian saw.
“This might be good”, the librarian said. The abstract for the book lit up Hana’s screen. Next to the summary of the book there was an image of the cover and a number of photographs. Hana quickly scanned it, chewed on a finger nail and agreed. The librarian moved the book to a folder on his screen. “What about a model?” the librarian asked. He brought up a rotating image of the inside of a man’s throat. The librarian nudged a sliding bar on the side of the panel. The image transitioned from two dimensions to three. Hana could now get a sense of the anatomy as if she were looking at a physical specimen. “That’s good”, Hana remarked. The librarian moved the model into the folder.
“How about videos?” the librarian suggested next. Hana wanted answers not questions. The librarian searched through the catalog, as well as a few websites. He downloaded an assortment of videos, each showing a red, moist cavern. Hana nodded in agreement with the librarian’s choices. Each video went into the folder.
“That’s fine”, Hana said, implying that she’d spent enough time at this desk.
“Do you have a reader or phone?” the librarian asked.
“Yeah”, Hana replied, searching through her purse.
“Hold it against the screen”, the librarian said. He tapped a few squares on his screen as Hana’s screen switched to an animation of curving bars sailing from left to right as they increased in size. “One sec”, the librarian informed Hana. Sliding her finger across the phone’s screen, Hana browsed through everything the librarian had sent.
The librarian informed her, “Those’ll be on your phone for 28 days.”
“I know”, Hana said as she bit her nail and stared at her phone.