Monthly Archives: November 2013

It was almost a week

Shining Cheshire Cat moon, like it knows all our secrets. “Just tell me one” I beg but it only grins and grins and grins. #Thursday

I can tell the people who have come down from the hills. They are yellow eyes reflecting. #Friday

A small finch flutters on the tips of puriri leaves. The rumble of an invisible airplane bounces around the cloud blanketed hills. #Saturday

The only things to do are the things that need to be done and I don’t want to do them. #Sunday

Parsing our conversation for understanding. Meaning hides like sparrows diving into lush green grass. #Monday

Pink grass skirt on a man. Voices rolling up to the roof. A watercoloured sky. #Tuesday

Following up the socially conscious library future

I probably shouldn’t wade in because it’s not my fight…but I’m going to anyway.

I published Go for the e-book commentary, stay for the socially conscious library future over at Diligent Room. It started with Matt’s discussion post about e-books in libraries with Connor Tomas O’Brien. Connor’s comments in A very quiet battle: librarians, publishers, and the Pirate BayThe public library, in other words, is nowhere near obsolete. In some cases, it’s more important than ever” prompted Matt to ask him “What do you think a public library should be doing in 2013?” Connor offers the Wheeler Centre in Melbourne as an example. It looks like an amazing space with lots of exciting events. Great for people who live in the city. Which was the theme of Matt’s next comments about rural libraries and the concerns he has around equity of service for people who choose to live there.

I storifyed the resulting Twitter discussion. I left out a few tweets that were related to the original question about ebooks as they broke the flow of the main discussion. I refrained from adding too much editorial comment as I believed that the tweets would speak for themselves.  Matt thought up a way that author visits could expand into Melbourne suburbs while still delivering foot traffic into the Centre.

Connor has responded.

His response made me furious. It’s the same attitude that I saw in the ALIA Futures discussion paper (1 May 2013) – omission of any comments regarding their indigenous population; convergence to large urban centres – plus it’s got some weird arguments in it.  (Read Smarter than you think by Clive Thompson and in the first 50 pages it tells us that more people are writing than ever before. We’re blogging, tweeting, writing fan fiction, writing emails, commenting on Facebook status updates, RANTING  etc etc.  Not “When you’re writing in a regional area, that culture can be lacking, making it infinitely more likely that prospective writers will never open their word processor in the first place.“)  It seems to me that Connor’s piece is written with a narrow definition of who is a ‘writer’. It makes me think that he works towards the funders, not towards the community. The ALIA document at least had an excuse – their paper was “intended to engage, excite, and provoke.” I have no idea what Connor is trying to build – except maybe arguments to keep the status quo.

And all this on a day when I was pointed toward Sometimes The ‘Tough Teen’ Is Quietly Writing Stories by Matt de la Peña which has one of the best arguments for taking authors and events to under-served areas whether it be schools, suburbs, or regions. This is who I want to be working for, and with for my library future.

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Dark Night and Wonderland

I’ve been waxing lyrical here and on Diligent Room about the cool things that people are doing for their communities at their libraries.   What is really exciting me is finding out the philosophy behind why they are doing it – their community is changing and they are changing with it. Seeing the kaupapa shared has made me think of Dark Night and LATE.
Image by Dylan Horrocks

Image by Dylan Horrocks

Dark Night was “a guerrilla festival of burlesque, literary, and cinematic events that question, celebrate, and challenge sex and sexuality on page, stage, and screen” at Auckland Libraries in June.  It’s the kind of event series that I would have loved to have gone to – sassy, fun, informative, entertaining, better than an author talk (which, btw, I love.) It was an event that promised to discuss ideas and society’s attitudes to those ideas. The fact that it was a number of different events across the week – a film, a Q&A, a panel discussion, burlesque – only added to the appeal. The library-specific phrase that jumps out at me from @DrMattFinch‘s blog is this one:
The point is this: if libraries are “your space of imagination, learning, and connection”, that applies to every aspect of our culture.
FUCK YEAH. (Incidentally, Auckland Libraries, why do I have to go to Matt’s blog to find out about one of your events that happened less than six months ago? I know he was the instigator and organiser of the event, but…really? I am disappoint.)
Auckland Museum’s LATE series is a similar sort of thing “discussion on contemporary themes, with bands and DJs performing in the Museum’s galleries. ” I still think about ideas I heard during those discussions (from 2009!) In December 2009 I wrote “I most definitely feel more connected to the Museum through initiatives like the LATE programme.” (Sadly I think I’ve lost a bunch of blogs when I imported them from Posterous before it closed, otherwise I’d link to them. Auckland Museum has an archive of information about the series.) There was something very satisfying about listening to smart people talk about smart ideas, then wandering the Museum halls with friends discussing what we’d just heard.
Wonderland was an exhibition that opened during the LATE series. Featuring videos from Mika, that was the LATE that turned me from a non-using supporter of Auckland Museum to an enthusiastic user and Friend. I guess Wonderland is the particular exhibition that comes to mind because it was the first time I realised that I saw the museum as a place that could add value to my contemporary lifestyle. (Also sexy orchid stories.) Being able to use the museum in a different way changed the way that I related to the museum and made me want to support it.
Here are a couple of tweets about Dark Night.

Sure, these are from library staff, but I think they indicate that Dark Night could be as influential to the way people relate to the library as LATE was for me in the way I related to Auckland Museum. The themed, multi-media style of Dark Night appeals to me. I like to weave ideas, quotes, comments etc from different places into a coherent whole – Dark Night offers that to me. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I like its style – the more innovative I think it was.

I’ve been seeing a few tweets about a possible second Dark Night at Auckland Libraries. Since Dark Night “was partly intended as a more challenging riposte to those White Night cultural events cities run around the world…but…it’s the term White Night which has the truly dark pedigree”  it seems appropriate that the theme that seems to be emerging is Fear. I’ve taken to calling it Dark Night 2: The Fear in the hopes that once the event is named it will become real – even if it is by someone in the wrong city, on their personal blog.

Actually, come to think of that, maybe there’s somewhere in Wellington that might like to pick it up? National Library has a beautiful new space that could be used. Te Papa? Wellington City Libraries? The Dowse in partnership with Hutt City Libraries? Matt is freelancing currently. One of you should hire him to bring Dark Night to your place.

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