Monday, October 09, 2006

In the latest edition of the New York Times available online @ , IAN URBINA
, writes about an ad campaign on the Washington DC transit system that pokes fun at not only the high number of high-powered people in the city, but also the idea that because they are high-powered, they think they should be reading "serious" books in order to maintain that veneer of high-powered status.

However, some people didn't see the joke. They thought it wasn't too funny that the idea of someone wearing a suit and reading a "low-brow" novel could be laughed at in comparison to someone reading a "high brow" work like Plato's "republic". They didn't see that all the posing and posturing, when you think of it as posing and posturing is really kind of funny.

This relates to libraries inasmuch as we cater to not only the high-brow, but also the lowbrow, and we do so with equal seriousness. There is no shame in checking out Britney Spears or checking out the 3 Tenors. Both are equal. Yet at the same time, as a library professional I can realize the role that making a selection and being seen with a selection plays in a persons life without shaming that person for allowing that media to play that role. One look at my MP3 player and you will note that there are some selections in there to impress, and others because I genuinely enjoy them. Research amongst my friends, and reading on IPOD useage has shown that I'm not alone in this.

So, good reader - what is your true pleasure, and what do you read simply to impress or to say you've read it so you can talk about it intelligently?


At 9:33 AM, Blogger aangela1010 said...

I read "Crime and Punishment" and "Anna Karinina" for my thesis during college. I Love/d both and am a fan of the classics and try to push them on others whenever I can. Not because they will think "oh what a well-read individual" or anything like that, but because classics can seem daunting but some that i've read are Really Good. When I was done with my BA the first book I read was The Thornbirds. Fluff, complete fluff (and a Great Read) and a professor of mine saw me, book in hand and exclaimed "what the Hell are you reading?!"

At 11:25 PM, Blogger Belle And Sebastian said...

At one of my jobs we have style magazines on subscription. It is part of my job to know what is and isn't in style. I literally have to read this, to know if my company's clothes are being featured and how our customers might be "in style" this season wearing our clothes based on what the magazines say.

So this is a heads up to those of us who consider ourselves library professionals. Not every reader of style magazines is a reader by choice. Some of us study them for work. It is a classic example of a "high purpose" for what society might define as "low culture". It is also a case in point of how we can never quite understand the true intent of the patron\ user in selecting an item off the shelf. We have to remember that there is neither high nor low, but information as needed or sought by the user.

At 3:45 PM, Blogger ekbromley said...

As someone with unabashedly uneven taste, I can relate to the urge to put your cooler tastes forward, and downplay those less-hip choices. But I'm not ashamed to say I have some early-90s Paula Abdul cds in my collection. Or that I still completely geek out when the subject of The Babysitters' Club comes up. Those are parts of my childhood that have nostalgic value for me. As an adult, I still make some uncool choices when it comes to music and books. To me, it's not a matter of having an impressive library or playlist, but having one that says something about the person who put those things together.
I like the idea behind the DC transit ad campaign. I think the people who took offense might need to relax a bit and enjoy the laugh. I see where they're coming from, but I don't think the ad was meant to be taken very seriously.

At 10:51 PM, Blogger Belle And Sebastian said...

So you read the Babysitters Club? This is what I get for growing up with mostly female friends. I read a lot of sterotypically girl books when I was younger. I don't relate nostalgically to them the way you do, in fact I think this is the first time in 15 years that I've even thought about having read them. I gave them to a my friend Adele before I switched schools in grade 5.

At 3:48 PM, Blogger aangela1010 said...

Speaking of "uncool" taste. I recently discovered the wonder that is Judy Collins. I am so embarassed but I love her music! I really am turning into an old lady!


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