J.B. Blackford

Refine. Hone. Distill. The self is a text, too.

Bibliotheque, Biblioteca, Bibliothek

Books have made a junkie out of me. I need to be surrounded by them, constantly rotating my way through multiple volumes stacked around the house on couch arms and desks and bedside tables. I would be thrilled if most of my house could be dedicated to bookshelves, even if they end up in a door or the ceiling to save space. Only the advent of the digital tome will keep me from crushing myself and my husband under tumbling towers of the books I’ve read, want to read, will read, will read again, and will always want to read but never get to. I’m the person who buys every possible published piece from her favorite, essential authors … even if the right moment to read them all hasn’t arrived yet. 

And can I get an “Amen” for the local library that supports my habit?  

Right now, my “checked out” queue looks like it supports an entire household or a schizophrenic: Gene Wolfe’s Shadow & Claw for my fantasy needs; Nabokov’s The Eye because I read about it on a list of “Books You’ve Never Heard of By Authors You Have”; Shriver’s We Need to Talk about Kevin because it may possibly inform a narrator I’m currently creating; and The House with a Clock in Its Walls and the second book in the School of Fear trilogy for an upcoming blog. I’m also waiting for Zadie Smith’s recent NW to come on request. 

Yet I can’t help by worry that, in the wake of the digitizing publishing industry and the misconception that the internet is a bastion of all credible sources, the library as I know and love it will dissolve within my lifetime. Of course, I hope that bibliophiles like my friends and family (and the book-loving masses that Twitter assures me are out there) will help preserve an asset that will never stop being essential. From programs for children that encourage reading and creativity, to the reference librarian who still points me in the direction I need when the internet is too large a pool, this brick-and-mortar resource simply can’t be replaced by the digital world.

The dilemma I face, though, is conflicting loyalties: My original love is the written word — the smell of a book new or old, each distinct and delicious. But digital books are the future of my professional industry and their convenience can’t be denied. There isn’t an easy way to alleviate this discomfort, so I follow up buying an e-cookbook with writing to the Regional Asset District board in support of the Carnegie Library. After getting a weightless copy of Murakami’s massive 1Q84, I revel in NYC’s refusal to be shushed and their attempts to salvage these centers of community, learning, and history.

And while this may be related only tangentially, it has the word biblioteca in it, so —  from Community — here’s Troy and Abed rapping in Spanish, which is actually what got me thinking about the library and this blog. 


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This entry was posted on October 30, 2012 by in Reading and tagged , , , , , , .
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