Last Friday I spent the morning in the attic, moving boxes, sorting, organizing, and generally getting covered in dust and cobwebs (but no spiders, thank goodness!). When I opened the door to leave the attic, a three year old girl looked directly at me and exclaimed, “You’re real!” Why yes, yes I am. I must have unknowingly been making quite a racket upstairs. I can only imagine who or what she thought was making it. And as a result I received one of the simplest affirmations ever. Yes, I am real.
My favorite moments each day happen in the hallways of CELC Eastside, where I am peppered with questions and snippets from the toddlers. Who are you? My mom’s at work. Are you from the library? What’s in your box? What’s your name? My name is Isabelle. I have a mosquito bite. Zaia has an ouchie. And so on . . .
These are some of the less tangible treasures of my time at CELC. My major tangible find this week was a Toshiba laptop from 1993. Yes, that date is correct. Imagine what a 20 year old laptop looks like . . . awesome! Anyone in the market for such a machine? And no, it’s not particularly historical in terms of the Learning Centers themselves, but it does capture the beginning stages of the digital revolution. With digitization as one of the main aspects of preservation of CELC’s history, finding this laptop (and lots of floppy discs) serves as an important reminder of how easily digital formats can also become obsolete or inaccessible. Just think, most of these toddlers will never know what a VHS is. I must work not only to digitize for the long term, but also to preserve the documents and photos themselves should the digital copy become unusable. Of course I don’t want that to happen, but I work with the available technology and who knows where today’s technology will lead. Even though it is the past, history requires diligent activity to maintain its value and relevance in the present, to “be real,” in the wise words of a toddler.