My inbox tells me that I have a dozen or so emails to read — some are the inevitable end-of-the-year newsletters from various organizations, and I will read them over this Christmas season, though it’s mostly a duty, not a pleasure.
Except one. If you are not a subscriber to the Stanford University Libraries newsletter, I recommend the experience — if for no other reason than you will get the scribblings of Andrew Herkovic. For example:
The Ghost of Library Future
In this season of continuous reminders of A Christmas Carol, I am mindful of another Dickensian reference to frame the state of publishing. It was the best of times: Dan Brown! Harry Potter! Amazon! Kindle! Google Books! It was the worst of times: Dan Brown! Harry Potter! Amazon! Kindle! Google Books! There is something there to vex almost any of us book lovers – and, if there is any common element among readers of this newsletter, I trust the love of books would be it – and perplex observers of the publishing industry. We can be sure things are changing fundamentally, though, as usual, none of us has a handle on the end state of this buckram revolution. As individuals, we have pretty good control of what and how we read; we can decide whether to buy an e-book reader, a hardback copy of the latest theo-thriller, an audio book of Sarah Palin’s autobiography, a paperback ‘tween novel (as a gift, perhaps), or wait for the movie to come out on DVD. Libraries, however, don’t have the luxury of choosing whether to ignore the dynamics of the marketplace or the pace of innovation. Here at Stanford, moreover, we insist on taking an active, rather than reactive, role in the future of books, and we believe this to be in the best interest of our readers, now and in future. That this creates strains on our attention and means is less important than being in the hustings, and we think these are the most exciting, if perhaps not best, of times in publishing. If the library were a conscious entity, it might well subscribe to the words of the repentant Scrooge, “I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future! The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me.”
With best wishes for your spirited reading in the coming year,