directional sign
Monday, August 26, 2019 Mary Paulton

What was used to navigate this world before GPS? 

Let us first define GPS.  To date, this acronym is short for global positioning system and is widely used to describe the ability to tap into a device that will get us from point A to point B whether by land, air or sea.  Corresponding coordinates allow for pin-point accuracy.  How does this work, you might ask?  Technology is such that a satellite placed in space receives and transmits signals from and to a sender on earth.  This transfer of information verifies the position of the enquirer and provides for course-plotting navigation.  When we look to the sky, we do not see these orbiting directionals without the use of a telescope.  They do not glow or have a night light that turns on when the sun sets—nor do they need one.  Unlike the stars set in the firmament, we do not need to see GPS to reap its benefits. 

The first travelers relied on the sun, moon, and stars when traversing the sea with the use of a finger width or two, on an extended arm.  Even these earliest methods were quite accurate as it was all based on finding the latitude.  This is done by using the north star, Polaris, as a point of reference.  More sophisticated devices were invented over the years by many people who contributed knowledge and experience to what came to be known as the sextant.  So long as the stars are in their heavens, a sextant will suffice. There are a multitude of directional aides we use to find our way in the world whether on the road or on the water from road signs to landmarks.  Each are unique to its surroundings but hardly as dependable.  It can be a challenge at times to discover a sign has been switched after a detour of twenty miles or the 100-year-old tree that once marked the cove has been exchanged for a multi-story structure. 

Before you head out down the road or out to sea, stop in at the Lansing Library.  We have made it easy to get around from the moment you step through our doors.  First off, we welcome you.  To your left are strategically placed arrows directing you to our accumulated resources.  Take a moment to retrieve a book about a place you would like to visit.  Sit comfortably in a variety of areas as you jot down points of interest.  Do not forget to check out an audiobook or a compact disc of your favorite tunes to take along.  Finalize your plans with printed copies using our computer ePrint application through the library website.  Whether you are exploring distant lands or spending your days locally make the Lansing Library your GPS...Great Place to Start.  Hope to see you soon.  Until then, keep looking up.