Thursday, April 06, 2006

Reading, by any other name, doth smell as sweet?

Philosophical discussion we were having yesterday, just to kick off your morning (if you live in the U.S., that is): What is considered "reading," anymore?
A few examples:
*If you are looking at a graphic novel--that does not have any text on the page--are you still "reading"?
*If you are listening to an eAudiobook, are you "reading"?
*If you find yourself in a digital collection of photos, a museum or historical society and you visually absorb "realia" items, would you consider it "reading"? (Passively) "Looking"? Do you become a "looker"!?!

Alane thinks this conversation has the sound of one hand clapping, robots dreaming of electric sheep...but the conversation started out at the language level.

It's really a matter of precision, I guess. Can we still call our information consumers "readers," in good conscience? I know the terms go in and out of style (should we call them "Two-point-oh'ers"?) and surely Walt will do a comprehensive study someday--but the verb to read and the act of reading, to me, can take on a much larger definition in libraries than the mere act of looking at squiggley black things on a page or screen. Anyone have an OED Online subscription?

Readers, Researchers, Users, Patrons, Consumers, Customers, Clients...

[ingest image here]


Bill Drew said...

Its like trying to contemplate one's navel without a mirror in front of you, all you get is a sore neck and no real results.

Alice said...

You said it, Bill! What is the preferred term you use at Morrisville State College?

Of course, I'm sure it depends on whether you're giving Library 1.0, Library 2.0, or just plain "good reference" service! :)

Anonymous said...

Am I the only one overcome by the irony of OCLC staff linking a literary reference to an bookpage?

Andy Havens said...

As a McLuhan fan, I'd be inclined to categorize the issue in terms of "hot" vs. "cool" media. Reading requires a level of interpretation not necessarily imposed by exposure to other forms. You *must* engage to read. It is "internally" very, very cool. I can have a headset on, listening to an audiobook, and let my mind wander. I can close my eyes while watching TV and miss the video portion. I can only see vague details in a painting, missing entire portions of it and still maintain that I've "seen" it.

You cannot have read a word or words without having read them. You can read badly, you can read without understanding, you can read and forget almost immediately... but to understand the difference between reading and video as media, try watching a foreign film with no subtitles. Then try to read a book in a language you do not speak or read at all. You'll still get plenty of info from the movie. Reading requires the you bring much more to the table in almost all instances. It requires everything that any other medium requires, plus the ability to read. Because written language is another step down the "food chain" of symbols from reality.

Alice said...

Ha ha ha, GUILTY!

Apologies to WorldCat. Sorry, friend. Here is the more appropriate link! :)

And for any other forgetful blogger, here is the easiest place to execute a WorldCat search on the open Web!

Ms. OPL said...

The whole issue can be resolved easily if we realize what the REAL product of our libraries is
NOT books
NOT information
The REAL product of our libraries is ANSWERS--SOLUTIONS to the problems of our customers.

The problem can be as simple as "I have a few minutes, where are the magazines?" or as complex as "I'm starting a business--what do I need to do?"

Barbara said...

Answers? Every time I go into a library looking for answers I end up with more questions.

Unless, of course, I'm just running in to pick up a book. ;-)