Tuesday, September 29, 2009

for all you moderns out there...

Reading an article from BBC news my friend Charles Harrison posted on
his fb profile about the Billy, the most popular mass-produced
bookcase in the world sold by Ikea, I was intrigued and inspired. The
author not only chronicled the design and development of the Billy but
also raised some great questions about the importance of displaying
books and what a collection of books says about the collector. So,
similar to my recent post on the iPod, I ask the question, "What story
do your books (and how you display them) tell?"
As I reflect on this question, two particular items are brought to
mind: church libraries and the bookcase of a mechanic friend of mine.

What do church libraries, how they are set up, where they are set, and
how they are accessed tell you about a church? I believe these
collections, their location in reference to the main flow of the
church, and their contents tell a particular story about that
congregation. It has, however, always been a mystery to me to walk
into relatively new church buildings that have church libraries. Is
their existence a commiment to a previous obligation...like a
memorial? Or coukd their presence serve as an indicator about the
information acquisition of the membership and possibly it's age and
mindset? Could it be a "tell" to visitors about the age/era the church
finds itself most comfortable in? What does the existence of a
resource center/library consisting largely of printed material in a
conference office tell you about the organization and how they see the

On another note, I will never forget the bookshelf of a friend of mine
who happens to be a mechanic. Amongst all the auto repair manuals and
countless volumes regarding the inner workings of particular cars
there is tucked away a book on collecting antique glass paperweights.
Upon further prodding, I found a softer, gentler side to my mechanic
and friend (who often comes across as gruff) and was introduced to a
whole new world of collecting I was previously unaware of. It taught
me that books and how they are displayed can speak volumes to the
story of a person.

What about you?

1 comment:

Jason said...

One of the things about having a Kindle is people want to look at it and then tell you why they think it is cool, how much they like it and then tell you how much they would never own one themselves.

"I like the feel and smell of a paper book." I am often told as though I am a Kindle salesman pushing product.

As I continue to reflect on a resistance to e-books, I wonder if some of the resistance is rooted in an inability to display the books we have read in an e-book form.

It is far more impressive to us and to others to see loads of books 'conquered' by one reader.

I am curious to know if the actual collection of books being displayed says something as much as the content of the books themselves.

Most of the books on my selves are there for reference. I only have a few novels and ever fewer non-fiction books. It seems to me the story I wish to be told by the collection of physical books I have is "knowledge, questions and deep thought is important to me."