While wandering the halls between sessions at a conference of New Jersey reference librarians, who should I bump into but our occasional blog contributor, Marian the Librarian. Just the person to give me the unvarnished truth about the future of books in a digital world. Marian is an avid attendee of continuing education classes as you can read about in her previous posts on this blog and she is not afraid to tell it like it is.
Is there a librarian in the house?
Time Management in Libraries
Me: Marian, did you go to the session about the book being dead? What do you think?
Marian: Anne, don't you think we need to define book and dead before we have that conversation? By book, do we mean the bound book, formerly known as a codex, which replaced the scroll, or do we mean the contents of the book in whatever delivery format it exists? Is a book on CD still a book or has it become something else? A weasel perhaps? No, absolute rubbish! It's still a book. If a book thrums electronically over the wireless cloud of the internet to land on your ereader, is it the same book that sits on the shelf in the library or is it fundamentally different?
Me: Yes, of course, I see where you are going with this...
Marian: (fixing me with a gimlet eye to stop my interruption) And dead? DEAD! How can the book be dead when they are still everywhere? Did I miss something? Have all the book collections on every shelf just vaporized overnight?
Me: No. Erm. That was a rhetorical question, right?
Marian: Let's hear no more about this dead book talk. Excuse me. I want to eat my box lunch and read the book I just downloaded from ListenNJ. It's due in five days.