Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Libraries -- the New Wal-Mart?

I don't normally like to think of commerce & literature together, but they are intrinsically connected, whether we like it or not. (My husband is a former manager of a big box bookstore, so I definitely understand the connection.) As a poet especially, I know that I would never have the same financial success as, say, John Grisham or Stephen King.

However, I always thought that our libraries would be a storehouse of all works of literature, but this article from the Wall Street Journal is disturbing, to say the least. It details the use of a computer cataloging system for libraries which monitors circulation, among other things. If a book doesn't circulate within two years, it recommends permanently pulling it from the shelves.

How would students or young readers be able to rediscover writers who have fallen from favor? How would we retain our literary heritage, without the actual physical books to read? How would we be able to gain inspiration from our previous generation's work, if that work has been eradicated?

I know this is slightly hypocritical blogging about this technological change to our literary heritage, but to me it smacks much more of commercialism and pandering than opening up new avenues of expression. I shudder at the new world without complete libraries -- full of VC Andrews books and blank stares.