What a muskrat taught me about the Internet vs. libraries & a poll

When I was in 7th grade, my best friend, Sharon Richardson, and I had a plan.  We were both going to get ponies by our next birthday.  I didn’t know a thing about ponies, so I went to my local library and the school library to check out as many books as I could carry on how to raise ponies.  Sharon got hers exactly on her birthday which was a few days before mine.  I didn’t, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles and maybe it was for the best since I found out there’s more to raising ponies than throwing them in a garage and feeding them grass.

I was standing out on my upper level deck yesterday and noticed something brown, furry and totally unrecognizable beyond the wooden walkway which led to the road across from the marsh which separated my house and the channel.  I yelled for my daughter to look and she couldn’t figure out what it was either.

I flew downstairs and tried to get a closer look.  It was the size of a huge cat but had a long brown skinny tail.  My first suspicion was a rat, although I had never seen rats in these parts mainly probably because of the marsh and water instead of trash where they usually hang out.  I could be wrong; I’m just saying I’ve never seen any since I’ve been here and it’s been a few years.

So I go out and snap a few pictures of the dastardly varmint when he sees me and runs across the road with me trailing him, and underneath the wooden walkway that goes out to the dock.  I lose him.  He is nowhere to be found.

As I’m walking back up the walkway in front of my house, I wonder if it’s a muskrat.  Surely muskrats got their name by looking like rats, right?  I’d never seen a muskrat before and surely not since I’ve been here.

So, what did I do was run to the Internet.  In five minutes or less, I found out that’s exactly what it was, that they live in marshy areas and can do substantial damage.  I also learned people eat muskrats (often called water rats) which was so out of my comprehension of the whole scheme of nature and things but some people do.  I also got to watch a few YouTubes of someone eating one (actually quite hilarious) and also how to kill them – don’t know which one turned my stomach worse.  And here’s one titled killer muskrat.

Anyway, here’s what my muskrat looked like as he was running across the street:

My point is years ago, our libraries were the only places we could get extensive research done on anything unless we were fortunate to own a few sets of encyclopedias (does anyone buy these anymore?).  Today, because of the Internet, I believe more people are using this system of doing their research more so than having to go all the way to the library.  And it makes me wonder if this is the sign of the times?  Are less people frequenting the libraries because of the Internet?  What with all the search engines available to find out what you need in five minutes or less, is this doing damage to the libraries who depend on people to check out their books?  Are libraries as prosperous in terms of people checking out books as they were in years gone by?

I have a poll I’d love for you all to visit.

I’d also like to hear from librarians for a follow-up.  Are you seeing less people walk through your doors in recent years?  Leave your comments below or email me at thewriterslife@yahoo.com.

Thank you!

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