What Will “Post-Artifact Books” Mean For the Library?Posted: 14 Jun 2011
This is the post-artifact system. A system of unlocking. A system concerned with engagement. Sharing. Marginalia. Ownership. Community. And, of course, reading. - Craig Mod
This morning Craig Mod published another beautiful and thought-provoking essay called Post-Artifact Books and Publishing: Digital’s effect on how we produce, distribute and consume content. Like his other writings, this essay examines the future of the book vis-a-vis traditional and new publishing models. The essay addresses ideas about social reading, where and how books will live and the best format for digital books. All said, it is a sprawling but inclusive essay that, I think, all librarians need to read. Now.
In the opening Mod quotes Matthew Battles Library: An Unquiet History. After that little is expressly mentioned about libraries, forgivable since Mod, primarily a writer, publisher and designer, is not a librarian nor writing about what role they should play in shaping the future of books. However, the essay contains concepts that libraries are going to struggle with in the near future (if they are not already struggling with them now).
A few questions:
Libraries have always been somewhat social but what happens when the social is moved to the digital realm? How can libraries be a part of this. More importantly, how can libraries shape and connect this?
Mod points to several examples of how books are being created and published by alternative publishing formats largely through reader interaction. How can libraries be sure that these important books that are either POD or produced by smaller publishers are made available?
What are libraries doing to help shape the new systems in which books and ideas will be distributed? Working for rather than reacting to (or against)?
How can libraries promote the de-emphasis of authority surrounding access to information and materials?