Saturday, April 02, 2005

Books, Dogs and Blogs: Catalysts for Conversations

Quote from Shel's "In the Dogosphere": Humans are incredibly collaborative by nature. We find people with common interests. These days I spend much of my time in the Blogosphere. When I come up for air, I find myself in the Dogosphere.

I posted my Personal Theory in his blog: Humans are social animals. But urbanisation has made us more reclusive. We basically need an excuse (or a catalyst) to start making conversations. Perhaps we've lost the art of making conversations. So Dogs and Blogs are really just excuses for humans to act out our instinct for social interaction.

Shel & his wife should meet my wife someday. My wife sees a dog being walked near our home and she knows the dog's name, the owner's name, and whether the dog has had a new haircut etc. She's like the residential Dog-owner's Directory. She and other dog owners get along fine. In contrast, I don't really make an effort to talk to other owners. Maybe 'cos I'm not a dog lover. I just love my dog -- yeah, I know it sounds like some bull excuse.

Anyway, I was thinking of how the above relates to books and libraries in general. Specifically, I was wondering why the library could not be like the Blogosphere or Dogosphere, where people meet and converse with booklovers? Afterall, people who visit libraries must share some common interest in reading.

My new CE (i.e. NLB head-honcho) Dr. N. Varaprasad accurately observed that Book Reading (at least in Singapore) is often a solitary activity. NLB libraries have been focusing on serving the Individual Customer. The new direction would be for libraries to shift towards reading (predominantly, but not exclusively on books) as a social or group activity. At least that's how I understand it.

Olkgal's wrote that: Sometimes i'm really really tempted to walk up to someone who's holding a book that i have enjoyed reading and just say, "hey.. that's a good book that you have there... have you read it? or "What do you think of the book".

But also laments that: I have never had anyone come up to me to ask if the book that they have chosen was any good... they are simply not interested to hear more.

I think that "Ideal State" is perfectly possible. Like all good things, it would take time to develop. Even the Blogosphere wasn't built in a day.

My suggestion is to position libraries not as a place to get books, but a place to get IDEAS. I like to tell people I love to read not for reading's sake, but for the ideas that I get from books. I'd imagine the day that people would come to the Liblogosphere (physical or otherwise) to get ideas through reading and conversations with our Liblogarians and other book lovers.

If dogs and blogs are catalysts for conversations, so can books and librarians. Feel free to share your thoughts or suggestions on how this can be done.


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