28 June 2010

Can you just stop this obsession with books?

Hey, Library. How are you? It's been a while since we last had a serious talk, but I've been busy. Anyway, I've got a few minutes to kill before I have to fly off again, so care for a cup of coffee or something? Great!

So, how have you been? Busy, eh? Yeah, I know the feeling, always striving towards the future, making things better, solving more complex problems, finding within yourself which path you should travel, all those things. Yeah, I've been busy, too. Life is always in motion, always changing, and we cling to those things that don't while learning and re-learning to let go of that which does.

Oh, that's not what you've been doing? Right, you've ... tinkered with FRBR? And you're excited about RDA? No, no, I'm not disappointed, I just thought, you know, the last time we talked that we knew that was a bit of a dud, you know? That the future of the library isn't in, well, bibliographic?

Look, Library, I know you love your books, I really do, but didn't you agree with me that the world was more than just books? Yeah, so why are you still obsessing with them? Why is your world still revolving around small rectangular physical paper-based objects with words in them when there is simply so much out there? Heck, there's even all of that stuff in the books available in other formats and mediums, too, but you seem to just have a fetish for paper? What's up with that?

Can you just stop this obsession with books? It's not healthy for you. You go on and on about the measurements of the paper, what it weighs, you talk only about what it looks like, who wrote it, when it was written, who printed it, and so on. In fact, you go on and on about how to simply read and describe the title of the darn thing, and not once do you dig into the content of the thing to tell me what this thing is really about. Sure, you pop out some keywords about it, but seriously, you got all that from reading the sleeve cover, I mean, come on, have you even read the darn thing?

Look, I know why you do this; so that, through your brilliant description, others might find it when they search for whatever you described it as. The problem is that the ratio of getting it right for all people is about the word-count of the book itself. It's not good to have a few butchered select words about a tome of knowledge or inspiration. You're not helping people on their path with this sort of stuff. People are not interested in books. They are interested in its content.

You need to stop talking about books, and seriously - as in, right now! - start talking about content. Otherwise, all that will be left of you will be an epithet of what you once was. And I hate to see you down, my friend, I really do. But the power to change is from within. You will have to want to change. I'll help if you like, heck, we all will! We all love you and think you're the greatest, but seriously, you have got to change, you have got to shape up and lose that bibliopheliac addiction.

Ok, sorry to sound so glum and direct, I don't have the time for a long boring committee meeting. Thanks for the coffee, by the way, it was great. And great seeing you again, I've missed our little chats! Take care, ok? And call me if you need anything, alright? Love you. See you later.

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