Trying to remember a science fiction novelette


New Member
Jul 1, 2021
I read this book in the early 80s. I cannot remember the title or the author. I was reading a lot of Robert Heinlein at the time, but I don't think it was something of his - at least I haven't found it. It's possible that the story was from the 60s or 70s as I was getting books from my older brother who collected sci fi books, so have read Phillip k Dick, Azimov, Bradbury. It seemed to be a part of a set of short stories from a science fiction author but I could be wrong. The story was about a society where everyone was born connected to an electronic library. If they wanted to learn something or know something they just had to select it from the library and it would be downloaded into their brain instantaneously. There was a boy who was born without this ability. He became the librarian because he had to read everything to learn unlike everyone else. People shunned him because he was different. Eventually a computer type virus infected the library(or some other calamity of the type) and everyone was endangered. I assume there was a timeline where something had to be done to remedy it. The boy was the only one unaffected and he had to learn what to do and how to save everyone. I cannot remember if the ending was - he did so, or if the catastrophe actually occurs and he needs to teach everyone how to be "human" again. Thanks for your help. :)
I just added this to my watchlist, watching for for a "found".
Must find out if the author was inspired by Asimov's "Profession".
It's almost like part of a sci-fi series, titled "Profession, Episode Two: The Librarian".

Can't remember where or when but we've had this question raised before. Check through the requests for books for the last year or two.

Cheers, Greg.

Think I found it - "Profession" by Asimov. (And just saw it in Ravensqwark's post! Damn!!!)

Cheers, Greg.
Har! I think in "Profession" he was a generalist who could learn and remember many subjects.

A liberal arts major, as it were.

Or could do arithmetic without a calculator.

The librarian profession threw me off (though obviously not so far off the subject that it couldn't be found), and would still make a great sequel.
I just read "Profession".
Not only longer than I remembered, but you forget a lot of details in a few decades.
Yeah? See how much you forgot from it, or from 'Harold and Maude' or 'Little Fauss and Big Halsy' or 'Dances With Wolves'.

"Librarian" threw me off, but he was the (supposed) "reject" because he could learn new things from reading - on his own! - in a now-interstellar human race who had "new models' of technicians every year because they didn't learn anything outside of the Education tapes.

“Well, anyway, it was all clear to me, as though I had known it all the time

but wouldn't listen to myself. I thought: What was it I had wanted Novia to

let me do? I had wanted to go to Novia and take a batch of un-Educated

youngsters and teach them out of books. I had wanted to establish a House

for the Feeble-minded – like here – and Earth already has them – many of


Omani‟s white teeth gleamed as he smiled. “The Institute of Higher Studies

is the correct name for places like this.”

“Now I see it,” said George, “so easily I am amazed at my blindness before.

After all, who invents the new instrument models that require new-model

technicians? Who invented the Beeman spectrographs, for instance? A man

called Beeman, I suppose, but he couldn't have been tape-Educated or how

could he have made the advance?”


“Or who makes Educational tapes? Special tape-making technicians? Then

who makes the tapes to train them? More advanced technicians? Then who

makes the tapes – You see what I mean. Somewhere there has to be an end.

Somewhere there must be men and women with capacity for original

I think the key element in "Profession" was that Our Hero's brain was not suited for the electronic education that (almost) everyone else received. He had to learn 'the old fashioned way--' learn from the book and memorize the good parts.

As such, he couldn't receive a ?certificate? saying he was a "Trained Machinist" or "Astronomer." And had a hard time facing his friends who all had certificates of one kind or another.
Yep, he couldn't learn it by tape-feed!
The thing I'd forgotten since my teens was the shocker, that the others, the tape-trained specialists - couldn't go "damn tapes didn't teach me the Beeman spectrograph; they only had the Hensler spectrograph in them -- guess I'd better go read up on the Beeman."

George said, “If you knew in advance that the

Beemans were going to be used, couldn’t you have

studied up on them?”

“They weren’t in my tapes, I tell you.”

“You could have read – books.”
That was the best shocker about reading this story with more life experience.
I had remembered it as specialist-vs-generalist, but it was ever so much more.
And more deadly.

So human-colonized exoplanets had to pay Earth for "new models" of specialists tape-Educated on Earth every year to maintain every year's newer technology.................
Because last year's models weren't programmed for it.
It sounds similar to the Outer Limits episode titled "Stream of Consciousness" from 1995 -- perhaps the episode was based on this story?
Sorry I missed all these posts. Just got a generic email from the site and logged in to find all these. I don't spend too much time on forums and I thought I had tagged this to email me when people responded but I apparently didn't do that right. :confused: I found the "Profession" book by asimov online and read it. Interesting read, but not the one I am searching for. It is possible that the person is not the librarian, but because he has to read books to learn, he spends most of his time in the library. I will look through the request for books area and see if there is something there. Thanks. :)