Libraries Up in Smoke!
Every reader of this blog must take a look at Ben Myers’s “Twelve theses on libraries and librarians.” It’s marvelous!
But as I was soaking it in, I started to think about what ebooks are going to do to this great cultural institution. Then my eyes wandered to a postcard above my desk that replicates the time-worn declaration that readers in Oxford’s Bodleian Library must promise to obey:
I hereby undertake not to remove from the Library, or to mark, deface, or injure in any way, any volume, document, or other object belonging to it or in its custody; not to bring into the Library or kindle therein any fire or flame, and not to smoke in the Library: and I promise to obey all rules of the Library.
Is it just happenstance that the word kindle appears here? I’ve wondered where Amazon got the name for its ebook reader, Kindle. Was it here? Is Amazon’s subversion of libraries this cynical?
The Bodleian must update its oath and not allow any Kindle (or like devices) within its hallowed walls! It is a digital incendiary device! Surely if any fire or flame has ever threatened to reduce the library as an institution to ashes, it is the Kindle!
Ash Wednesday, 2010
Posted by Dan Reid
at February 17, 2010 11:56 AM
Dan, I enjoyed the article and liked your comments too.
In the Times Talks interview with Stephen King recently, I was intrigued by one person's comment that even when she gets a book on Kindle for convenience she buys a paper copy because she likes the smell of a book. Maybe that is partly what we like about libraries too - the smell of books.
I think you are right, Terry. When my older sister was in high school, she worked at a local bookstore. I have very vivid memories of walking in there and being struck by the wonderful smell. What's not to love!
No doubt tongue in cheek: surely we mustn't give the Kindle that much credit! I've heard lackluster comments about it since it has launched.
The "wierdos" who simply love the feel and smell of a hardbound book will always be with us. I'm going to go smell my antique shelf right now…