3 thoughts on “online retail influencing libraries

  1. bob stein

    hmmm. i wonder if a smart hacker on some library’s staff has used Amazon’s APIs to link the Amazon user database to the library’s card catalog? seems like a natural development. also, wonder if anyone has done any work linking library card catalogs to related resources on the web. i’m not talking about an unstructured Google search, but handmade links on impt. topics; e.g. if someone is researching the debate on evolution, might they be referred to PZ Myers, Pharyngula?

  2. Daniel Anderson

    Your post reminds me of why I like Billy Collins’s poem, “Marginalia.” The poem points to the conversations that take place as readers jot their reactions in the margins of books,

    skirmishes against the author
    raging along the borders of every page
    in tiny black script.
    If I could just get my hands on you,
    Kierkegaard, or Conor Cruise O’Brien,
    they seem to say,
    I would bolt the door and beat some logic into your head.

    The comments in the margin show the arguments and interactions we’d like to see between readers and writers, but in the end what matters are the human traces we might find in books.

    Yet the one I think of most often,
    the one that dangles from me like a locket,
    was written in the copy of Catcher in the Rye
    I borrowed from the local library
    one slow, hot summer . . .

    A few greasy looking smears
    and next to them, written in soft pencil-
    by a beautiful girl, I could tell,
    whom I would never meet-
    “Pardon the egg salad stains, but I’m in love.”

    I like the question you raise about reader-tagged possibilities for libraries. Thinking about that kind of filtering in terms of how library users go about searching really highlights the need for anyone concerned with research to try to make sense of some of these changes that are happening. What do we make of and how might we reshape those connections from the margins.

  3. Peter Merholz

    Not just online retail. Look at the Seattle Public Library. Or the work that MAYA did for the Carnegie Libraries. It’s clear that they are influenced by the third-place success of Barnes and Noble and Borders.

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