My fantasy

You can have the coaches, the royal balls, the glass slippers, and personality-free Handsome Princes. For a library like that, I’d happily live with a beast. Maybe Lumiere and Mrs. Potts can help with marking exams?

Hey, it’s my princess fantasy, alright? Step off!

27 thoughts on “My fantasy

  1. Love this! True story: I dreamed last night about bookcases. I think I was having a debate with someone about the merits of free-standing vs. built-ins. And no, I’m not building a house. I’m merely a grad student with fantasies of an actual house with adequate book storage and no need to move again in the next year.


  2. Frees-tanding book cases are a safety concern. Built-ins or free-standing secured to the wall are the way to go.

    I just had my first annual review as department head. I was prepped to say “I don’t think I’m performing very well, feel free to fire me.” I only got the first part out before I was told that I am (apart from an email auto-reply incident) fine and oversee a a relatively functional tribe of chimps. There was some technical conversation during which I made a states-rights argument and the parting message was “cheer up.” I’m happy already, thank you, I just recognize that I work in the zoo.


  3. But all of the books can be destroyed if said Kindle is dropped into the bathtub, or a pool! Whereas even an entire swimming pool’s worth of water wouldn’t do much more than dampen the above pile of books. I’d agree with you koshembos if we still were living pre-1890s style, with oil lamps, open flames, burning coals and logs, etc. to light and heat our homes and libraries, but most libraries are super-safe now since we all got wired for electricity.

    Who here prefers those past technologies of the future microfilm or microfiche to codex? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Who here doubts that first-generation Kindles and i-Pads will be offered as antiquarian curiosities in old junk shops in a scant 30 or 40 years?


  4. After a recent adventure trying to open and read scanned/PDF’ed newspaper pages, one by one, on a netbook screen, I can say there are some advantages to (in-focus) microfilm over the digitized alternative. Searchability is nice (if not particularly reliable when current OCR technology is applied to 19th-century printed texts), but so is skimmability, and the ability to see how things fit together on a page. But if someone offered me the same newspapers, bound, with the original paper in a good enough shape that I didn’t have to worry about damaging it (or a good bound original-size facsimile) — yes, I’ll take codex, any day (and especially now that my aging eyes have me doing the glasses-on/glasses-off/bend-forward/lean-back dance as I try to get things in focus).

    And I need/want more bookcases — which will most likely turn out to be a combination of actual built-ins (actually, built-in-by-mes, which will be interesting) and Ikeas attached to the wall and otherwise doctored to function as built-ins. But if Belle’s library is available, I’ll take that instead (especially if the staff does grading. Do they do online teaching too, do you think? On the internet, after all, no one would know the teacher was a beast — or a teapot, or whatever).


  5. built-in bookcases with glass doors (so they don’t collect dust – I have cats). Yep, we all have our fantasy bookcases don’t we?


  6. All that stuff is going to get ripped out after Summer Session II so they can build a knowledge commons. The knowledge will go to an asteroid, probably orbiting around New Jersey, so there’ll be more room for the commons. The cup and saucer might get to stay for use in the coffee commons, but even that’s not likely.

    An academic library that I use a lot used to have forbidding signs about how food items draw noisome insects that damage books. Now students sit around tables interactively learning with three or four boxes of chinese takeout, spilling rice all over the place, in full view of where the authorities could see them if they ever went above the first floor, which of course they don’t. Is this because of a) new electronic vermin zappers, b) the customer is now king, or c) the noisome insects have joined the information commons “team” by hastening the need for the books to go to New Jersey?


  7. I once looked at a house in the middle of nowhere that was perfectly shitty in most areas but had a two story octagonal room with a couple of french windows, a fireplace and floor-to-ceiling built-in bookcases (with the moving ladder). I couldn’t buy the house, but I still dream about that room.

    Do you ever get the feeling that nice libraries are often wasted on people who don’t appreciate them (besides students)? My aunt and uncle (real estate agents) have a library that they fill with leather-bound books they’ve never read, and some fake books (!)- I never know what to say to them.

    Oh, and I could never understand why they made the guy uglier than the beast. My guess is the cartoonists were straight men who had little concept of male beauty.


  8. I think the “handsome” non-beast is also funny looking to our eyes now because IIRC he’s rocking a mullet. (B and the B was made in 1991. Prince Eric from The Little Mermaid, made in 1989, also wears a mullet.)


  9. “But all of the books can be destroyed if said Kindle is dropped into the bathtub, or a pool!”

    Nope. All of your Kindle books are archived at Amazon. You would get a new Kindle, and your books would be right there.


  10. Miranda: how long do you think Amazon will find it in their interests to store your library on the cloud? What happens when something bigger and stronger takes over Amazon, or it goes out of business or bankrupt?

    I’m happy not to rely on the good graces (and good fortunes) of a corporation to access my library.


  11. We (husband and I) have thought of that. All of our kindle books backed up on our computer.

    But nobody’s forcing anyone to buy a Kindle. It’s just that if someone breaks their Kindle, their books aren’t lost.


  12. I prefer microfilm in certain contexts. Well, in the specific context of research, where I much prefer to read microfilmed newspapers, where I can print off the desired page and take it home, rather than sit for hours with the original codex trying to type or write it out, whilst having to do the constant sit and stand and sit and stand dance to be able to read the small print at the different heights on a broadside paper (that you are not allowed to fold). Currently, I still prefer microfilm to digitised papers as the OCR is not good enough to do a reliable search on the 18th and 19thCs, and they are sooooo slooow to load that you could have *read* 2 pages in the time it takes to open one. Plus I think seeing articles in context gives you a better sense of the history of the period.

    Perhaps the ideal would be to own the originals in codex but they’d also have to magical and able to survive without proper humidity controls, dusting, and be able to resist the various coffee, wine and food spills that my other books are required to resist.


  13. No information technology has proved itelf as long-lasting as books. That could change–but we’ll see. How many of you saved information back in the day to 5-1/2″ or 3-1/2″ floppy discs? Is there any guarantee that today’s flash drives will be accessible 5 or 10 or 20 years from now? Microfilm was supposed to be the wave of the future 60 years ago, putting photographs of newspapers and books on film that was supposedly impervious to decay, but that’s proved not to be the case. This is why I’m skeptical of any attempts to replace codex technology, or claims that some new technology will surpass codex.

    As vulnerable to fire and flood as they can be, the original copies of said books and newspapers remain readable and accessible, if they still exist.


  14. I’m in favor of books pretty much all the way. Sitting in an armchair with a Kindle just wouldn’t be appealing, even if I had such a thing. Besides I like paper, and it takes longer before it makes your eyes hurt. Oh, and it won’t quit working since there aren’t any batteries to die on you. Maybe if they made an e-book reader that was more like an actual book…

    @Historiann To be fair, floppies have proven to be quite resilient, with people doing retro computing stuff being able to recover things off of old 5 1/4″ discs that are 15-20+ years old. That and I’m pretty sure they were still making 3.5″ ones probably 5 or 6 years ago. I think I’d trust the floppies more than the flash disk to some extent. I’m pretty sure that the magnetic information will still be there if if I drop it in a pool.

    Nothing lasts for ever, so what’s important is a relatively long life, preferably long enough that any information we want to keep can be transferred to a new medium.

    Maybe if we used inorganic ink of some kind?


  15. Nothing may last “forever” in the geological sense, but I’d bet that some of Hammurabi’s kindergarten scrawls will still be scratched legibly and proverbially “in stone” half a million years after the Facebook IPO unravels in chaos later this week. I my not be there to collect or pay off, but…


  16. Truffula, no matter how much book shelf you have, the number of books will expand to occupy the available space. It’s like a rule or something.

    Speaking from experience.


  17. Wow, I don’t want to claim to be the only person on the planet–or maybe even the only person on this blog–to predict the Facebook IPO implosion, but I will say this as the slide continues through a third trading day: I’m glad I kept well over a third of my endowment on an index of leading U.S. steelmakers! I think I may order a few quire of paper stationery and a self-filling fountain pen!


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