I recently came across a great blog – Bookshelf Porn – “Porn for book lovers. A photo blog collection of all the best bookshelf photos from around the world for people who *heart* bookshelves.”
It is a photo gallery of all the crazy and wonderfully creative ways people are storing their print books. Very visually appealing.
Wade Davis, National Geographic Society’s Explorer-in-Residence, was at the University of Winnipeg recently in December 2011 and gave a lecture entitled: The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World. He has given a couple of TED talks: The Worldwide Web of Belief and Ritual and Dreams from Endangered Cultures. I noticed that Wade had a photo of his own personal at-home workspace in Washington, DC postedon Bookshelf Porn.
As Davis often laments the passing of rare cultures, rituals, languages, art, and traditions as they become subsumed by a more homogeneous and modern pop-ethos, I’m fascinated by this depiction of his personal library as a merging of old with a new styling and perspective. Is the old (print medium) somehow not subsumed or at least set aside here? Do those that vehemently oppose certain trends or defend particular beliefs truly understand them at all or do they understand them too well? Perhaps Bookshelf Porn is the appropriate place to have found this photo – like other obscenities we find, we know it when we see it. Of course I should be careful when using we unless I can gain universal support in making such a collective statement.
The recession is not supposed to hit Manitoba as hard as rest of Canada, and, in comparison to the United States, the recession in Canada (for those who may have actually heard journalists or politicians use the ‘R’ word or even the word ‘downturn’ or perhaps the phrase ‘lower growth’) is supposed to be nowhere near as dramatic. But speaking of something that is dramatic, I enjoyed this NBC news clip of Libraries Offer Free Relief from Tough Times that my American colleague, Michael Sauers, posted to his blog. As as Librarian I spend a good deal of time promoting my Library and the need for Libraries in general, but I’m glad big news media is finally helping to promote the virtues of Libraries. Looking back on my previous post Historic ‘Blockbuster’ Store Offers Glimpse Of How Movies Were Rented In The Past, it does seem like there’s less opportunity to aim such satire at Libraries. However, as big news media gets a hold of this and mixes the merits of Libraries in to a two and a half minute soundbite, there’s something that makes a much bigger and better blockbuster.
Seven phases of a project:
- Phase 1 – Wild Enthusiasm
- Phase 2 – Disillusionment
- Phase 3 – Confusion
- Phase 4 – Panic
- Phase 5 – Search for the Guilty
- Phase 6 – Punishment of the Innocent
- Phase 7 – Promotion of the Non-Participants
….Hmmm….And, by extension, I could see someone creating a mockumentary for Libraries. Of course, perhaps someone could work on the Shopping Mall mockumentary in the same respect.
In this mockumentary, the person acting as an ‘actual Blockbuster employee named Jerome’ states, “My main responsibilities are to man the cash register and to take the movies from the return slot back onto the shelves.” Obviously, this is similar function served by circulation clerks and shelving technicians in many of our Libraries. Albeit, this is an oversimplified summary of a job description that does maximize the humour in the situation, but, sadly, as we continue to move from brick and mortar Libraries to more virtual or digital Libraries, such functions are still essential. Moving physical bits in the traditional business model is unavoidable, but as our practice becomes more and more digital and new models and practices evolve, the juxtaposition of these two worlds can become much more glaring.
To the tour group, one character states: “I am a blockbuster customer named Cathy. Two times a week a travel six miles to rent and return videos. Oh, look we’re in the Comedy section.” Again, the similarities between the old world video store are not unlike traditional Libraries (or even brick and mortar stores for that matter). Expecting people to travel ‘great’ distances and then look for an item that may be located in a seemingly arbitrarily location due to a limitation imposed by the physical medium is obviously very similar to the old brick and mortar Library experience.
As Cathy states “What’s so poignant about this time is the uncertainty: When you get to the Blockbuster, are they going to have your video? Did someone else rent it? Is there a line? Are the alarms going to sound, when you walk out the front door? It was very difficult for the people that lived during this era.” Again, requirements of making any physical medium available impose some restrictions and require certain business processes or policies and practices to be created, but even as this video pokes fun at the historic Blockbuster, we have to wonder what kind of legacy would be left by a mockumentary of Libraries.
As Jerome states to Cathy: “Yes, we have it, but our only copy is checked out.” Though we all face limitations with the physical nature of our historical Libraries, hopefully we can do better at making things less difficult for our patrons so watching such a video wouldn’t seem so mocking.