September 7, 2008

"This isn't about going into the coffee shop business and abandoning the library. There are people who really lament this change."

"But if we hadn't done it, we would have lost the users, the students."

Says Ken Frazier, the University of Wisconsin-Madison director of libraries.

He's talking about the College Library, in Helen C. White Hall.
College Library has long been considered a social space on campus, and librarians appear to be encouraging fraternization.

Meanwhile, there are only about 100 paper journals and magazines left in the library, where previously there were a thousand. Most of them are less academic and more focused on popular culture or current events, such as Bicycling or Time. Scholarly journals are still available, but they're housed at the more traditional Memorial Library or in digital form....

With the changes came more room for study and gathering spaces....
Are you a library traditionalists? Do you want everybody to shush?

You can still check out a book. Like this:

(Photo by pamela-o.)

ADDED: Libraries should be used for socializing. Books are sexually stimulating:
PAM: Oh, hi! I'm Pam. You must be Kramer. [Kramer is smitten with Pam and grins goofily.] Jerry's told me a lot about you. [Kramer continues grinning.] Well, I'm supposed to meet Jerry, it's my day off. I work in a bookstore.

KRAMER (mouths the words): Books. [Knocks over a bowl of fruit on the counter.]


KRAMER: She works in a book shop. Her name is Pam.

NEWMAN: "Pam." I don't know the woman, but she sounds quite fetching.

KRAMER: I can't even speak in front of her. [Sits down on the couch.]

NEWMAN: Jerry! What could she possibly see in Jerry? [Walks in front of Kramer and trips over his feet.]

KRAMER: She has delicate beauty.

NEWMAN: Jerry wouldn't know delicate beauty if it bludgeoned him over the head.


NEWMAN: With your looks and my words, we'll have built the perfect beast.

PAM: Oh, hi! Kramer.

NEWMAN (whispers through the bookcase): Hi. How are you?

KRAMER: Hi. How are you?

PAM: I'm great.

NEWMAN: I too am well.

KRAMER: I too am well.

NEWMAN: Do I smell Pantene?

KRAMER: Do I smell?

NEWMAN: Pantene!

KRAMER: Uh, Pantene.

PAM: Oh, my shampoo. Yeah, it is Pantene, I got a free sample in with my junk mail.

KRAMER (talks rapidly in an attempt to keep up with Newman): Well, there really is no junk-mail...well, everybody wants to get a check or a birthday card, but...

NEWMAN (frantic): takes just as much man-power to deliver it as their precious little greeting cards...

KRAMER: Newman! [Elbows him through the books. Newman falls over.]

PAM: What?

KRAMER: Uh, human. It's...human to be moved by a fragrance.

PAM: That's so true.

KRAMER: Her bouquet cleaved his hardened...

NEWMAN: Shell.

KRAMER: And fondled his muscled heart. He embibed her glistening spell...just before the other shoe...fell.

PAM: Kramer, that is so lovely.

KRAMER: It's by an unknown 20th-century poet.

PAM: Oh, what's his name?

KRAMER: Newman. [On the other side of the bookcase, Newman preens proudly.]

I hope you new college kids have many wonderful conversations through bookcases... or in IMs... or wherever...


Expat(ish) said...

When I was at school at Duke in the early 80's the library was for work only. I transferred to Chapel Hill and was appalled at the social nature of the library.

Sounds like it is much much worse.

I guess that makes me an old curmudgeon or something now.


John Lynch said...

Libraries, except for archives, could be replaced by hard drives. All that space and all that staff to do the work of a spinning disk. Already, a lot of academic research is done on computerized databases.

If libraries don't reinvent themselves, they will go away. They're in the midst of doing that now.

Bissage said...

I don’t much care for libraries but who in their right mind doesn’t want to make friends with the badger?

Okay, that was simply cruel of me. But it’s not my fault. Yesterday’s Netflix post shamed me into finally getting around to watching “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf.” Some of it rubbed off. I blame Althouse.

For the truly masochistic, the lyrics are pretty funny, in a painfully overt kind of way. LINK.

Bob said...

john lynch is right, of course. Libraries and even book stores will be increasingly unnecessary as more data becomes available in digital form.

I see this in my own home. I'd love to get rid of all the books in my room, hundreds of them, and be able to find them in digital form online, free. They take up too much space, stink, and attract mold spores that promote allergies.

Eventually we'll be at a Star Trek stage when all data will be retrieved via a computer screen, and books will be interesting artifacts only. Right now we're at a transitional phase.

Bissage said...

As penance for my misspelling, I shall bark like a dog.




David said...

There is so little quiet in the world today, so little space for contemplation, that the quiet of a library is a sybaritic luxury.

AJ Lynch said...

Tell me again - what is a library ? It is used for ?

Full disclosure- in four years of college, I dropped every class that required a term paper and transferred to a class that did not. (Business major natch).

AJ Lynch said...


Dead Kennedys, Dead Milkmen. What's next?

Dead Typewriter Ribbon Salesman?

Joe R. said...

They did to the main library last year at the university I am at and it is absolutely awful. They moved *Books* out to make room for the Coffee place, and couches with faux-fireplaces on each floor. Not only do we now have to wait at least 24 hours for certain books to be brought in from storage, the library now seems like a shopping mall on Black Friday. I used to go to the library whenever I wanted to have a quiet space where I could focus on something without interruptions. These continuously socially-inclined folks already have places they can meet: real coffee shops (we have 4 on campus or a block from campus-not including the library), actual bookstores, pubs, bars and clubs.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

John Lynch Libraries, except for archives, could be replaced by hard drives. All that space and all that staff to do the work of a spinning disk. Already, a lot of academic research is done on computerized databases

Yes and no, John. Certainly it is much easier to do research using computers.....assuming the data has been entered completely and correctly. You know...garbage in garbage out. Not to mention the technical glitches and computer crashes. Books don't crash.

However, there is nothing quite like walking up and down the stacks of books in a well stocked research library. You have the texture and beauty of the books, some that were bound in the century before last when book binding was an art. Those are a look into a culture and time that doesn't exist anymore. Slower and more appreciative of craft. The smell of the library from old books and new books. The hush: reverence for the learning embodied in the books almost a religious church like atmosphere. The hush: respect for the other library patrons who are also lost in thought. The thrill of finding a book that may not have been looked at for years or even a generation. Finding a book that was misfiled in the Dewy Decimal System (remember that) and finding a new line of research or thought through serendipitous discovery. Opening up a book and finding a bookmark or note by a previous student that was written years ago, sometimes even before you were born.

So yes, we might be more efficient with computers and we might be turning libraries into coffee house atmosphere meeting places, but I think by doing so we are losing something profound.

John Lynch said...

AJ Lynch-- you are a smart man. I hated writing papers. I learned nothing useful from writing them since I didn't become an academic.

Dust Bunny-- yeah, there's a romance there. I worked in a library for two years.

There's also a romance about horses. What did we lose there? Or when we stopped farming?

Time marches on. I'd have a lot more books if I could store them all digitally. As it is, I have to give away or sell just as many as I buy. And the local library is not always able to get the books I want.

Progress is always a book with two covers... or something.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

AJ Lynch-- you are a smart man. I hated writing papers. I learned nothing useful from writing them since I didn't become an academic.

I'm not an academic either, but I believe that writing research papers gives us great tools that can be used in other occupations..

You learn to winnow the wheat from the chaff. Clarify your message. Critical thinking. How to organize your thoughts and present a clear persuasive story. Be able to present substantiating sources to back up your presentation. I use all of these skills every day in my business. to write in incomplete sentences :-)

RWD said...

While we're on the subject of silence, do note the irony:

When you click through to the University of Wisconsin Library story in the Tribune, the most viewed story there is:

Why the Earth could end when the new collider fires up

Secret Admirer said...

"NEWMAN: Jerry wouldn't know delicate beauty if it bludgeoned him over the head."

Oh, come on, can't you write one post without referring to Sarah Palin?