Picture used under a creative commons license courtesy of Pi.1415926535
Up until mid-December, when I started working here at Wheelock, I could count on one hand the number of times I had ridden the T. But traffic and parking being like it is here in Boston, I decided that I would rely on the T to get to and from work like I suspect many other students, faculty, and staff at Wheelock do.
For better or worse, my initial experiences with T have coincided with one of the worst winters in recent memory, which has led to delays, closures, and potentially contributed to the resignation of the present head of the MBTA. But in spite of the unpredictable timing of trains, the frequently overcrowded cars, and the ever so stubborn disabled trains that cause congestion, I have found the T to still be better than sitting in traffic and using the T has certainly helped me reduce my carbon footprint.
As I was riding the T the other day and was glancing over the prominently posted transit maps throughout the car, I started to wonder about its history. For instance, why is it that there are B, C, D, and E branches to the Green Line, but no A branch? Also, why exactly does the Orange Line originate at Oak Grove and not further north? Speaking of colors, where did the decision to label the lines according to color originate and do the colors have any historical significance?
When questions like this crop up in our minds, many of us, including librarians, are used to reaching into our pockets, grabbing our smartphone, and consulting Google. For matters of trivia or quick historical facts, the Internet can be the most convenient resource. Google any of the questions I posed above concerning the T and you are sure to find an answer pretty quickly.
The Internet is full of answers, but sometimes it’s hard to know if the answers you find are the right ones. A savvy Internet user knows that nothing on the Internet can be taken at face value and careful consideration must be paid to the source, author, and intent in order to determine the likelihood that the information is accurate.
In this way, the Internet is like the T. It can be convenient and may sometimes seem like the best option, but from time to time, like a disabled train, factual errors or bias perspectives can slow things down to a crawl.
While we can’t help you find a better alternative to the T (not for lack of trying), we can help you find a better alternative to the Internet: the library. Our resources are carefully selected by staff and come from trusted publishers and providers who vet the information before it is made available. The information we provide is trustworthy, accurate, and supported by references, so all the guesswork over determining if what you’re reading is true is eliminated and you can focus on the content.
So while we can’t save you time getting from Wheelock to downtown, we can save you time finding credible, useful resources. And best if all, if you lose your way, librarians can help!