Friday, October 27, 2006

The Garden of Forking Paths

Karen Schneider, in a comment on Alice's post below this one, asks for more possibly wacky ideas about what libraries might be. Actually, she didn't ask for wacky ideas....we just know some people will think they are. Well, I often have my own wacky ideas but I am wacked out from a month of packing up, packing and unpacking in a move from one part of Ohio to another (which is why I haven't been "here"...not that any of you noticed, I am sure!).

So, as a public service then, and so I can reappear here at IAG without much effort, and because it's a rainy Friday here in Ohio, I am expropriating/giving you a couple of ideas from a colleague--unnamed because he wasn't writing for you.

After Forbes.com came out with its story on the top earning dead celebrities (Kurt Cobain edged out Elvis Presley): How about "creating a page on a library's website that has links into content for each of the top earning dead celebs. Top Dead Celebs week at the library... I'm pretty sure it would generate some buzz, and probably get me fired."

Alice envisions library kiosks...how about libraries with no books? "The great thing about the books (and other media) that have NOT been written -- the ones that are users are working on and want to do something with in the future -- is that they don't require, at the time of their greatest need (the writing, editing, research, storage, reference, metatagging, etc), a physical library space.

Which is what will be going away as books get digitized. They need services to help their ideas move from their ephemeral, "mind-spaces" out into the world. Which is what librarians have always really been doing. It's just that they've been doing it in big, brick buildings, using paper and pens and carrels...I need help writing "The Book of Me?" Whether that's meant to be casual (a list of recipes because I cook; places I visit and itineraries; my genealogical quest; children's books I love that I want to keep track of for my niece; the best ways to fold paper; news stories related to the Armenian genocide), or formal (a PhD thesis I want to scrupulously bibliograph; a blog I want to use to market my business; my poetry online; a graphic novel) -- it's MY BOOK.

It's not in the library, yet. And it won't be, 99.5% of the time, because, right now... we only "library-ize" the books after they come out and an elite corps of post-production gurus give it a thumbs-up. But just like the printing press enabled about a million times more books to be "book-worthy" than were the case beforehand, so the Web and dirt-cheap server space makes MY BOOK, well... save-worthy, I guess. And if the library isn't going to help me catalog it and put it somewhere where I and others might get some benefit...
Google will."

2 comments:

K.G. Schneider said...

I'll dance in your garden! Dang, "The Book of Me" hits home--it's back to the concept of the user experience being preeminent, not to mention the gathering-together of one's important snippets.

At first I thought, that's wacky wowza too-far-out for a talk. Then I remembered: they're paying me to be too-far-out: they want to be stretched and challenged.

I remember saying a few years back that the paper-based book would be an anachronism in my lifetime... I'll run that up the flagpole again because I still think I'm right.

Anonymous said...

p.s. I missed you, Alane! IAG is always good... but with you back, even better. mazel tov on the new home. kgs