Sunday, 17 April 2011

Lesson five - The Mos Eisley Cantina and information etiquette

For this lesson, we set the scene with a musical interlude, courtesy of Mr "Weird" Al.

As an impressionable eleven year old, I found this particular scene put me off the very idea of ever going near any kind of bar. Later on, I made the mistake of entering the infamous Waterside Hotel on a dare one afternoon, which only confirmed my suspicions about the rough types and suspicious activity that are part and parcel of such seedy dives.   

That was until I discovered three interesting facts. First, I liked girls. Having been educated at a boy's only school, the opportunity to realise this earlier had been denied me. Second, I learned to enjoy alcohol in moderation and still do to this day. Finally, by coincidence I found bars often had both alcohol and girls inside. It was a perfect storm.

Another place I liked was libraries. I still do. You see libraries had the thing that pubs and bars lacked. Answers. The same curiosity that got me to walk into the Waterside was only ever satisfied when I found what I was looking for in the stacks. I was never punched in the face or thrown up on at a library, an added benefit.

If I am ever going to make a point then it is this. There is a lot of talk about library 2.0  and libraries become a third space. The move away from the word library toward leaning hub is not disturbing of itself. It simple reflects that fact that print media, like the scroll and the clay tablet that preceded it, is no longer the most efficient way to get information. It concerns me that the library community is becoming more focused on the library as a social space as opposed to a learning space. Part of this is the perception of libraries being seen as boring by a section of the community. Another aspect is the need for local government to recover costs of services wherever possible.

I am not into multitasking. If I want to study, I want to be in a space that is conducive to study. If I want to be social, then I go to somewhere social. If you want to have coffee and music in the library, you may as well put books in the bars and teach the bar staff to shelve and catalogue. Imagine the patron wandering up to the bar and asking for some Tolkien and a schooner. 

A more detailed look at the Cantina next time.

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