Fuck Content, Size Matters

Libraries have finally caught up with our Book Cube system of shelving books. Size is all that matters. Density is the rule of the day. The New York Times reported that the New York Public Library is upgrading the gigantic underground book storage to maximize capacity. It makes for strange bedfellows once you give up on logic. Books will now be shelved by size, not Dewey Decimal, subject, color, alphabetically, chronologically or any other system of visual or content derived logic.

The system uses high density storage, those rolling shelves we love, which are hand powered to avoid the nightmare of crushing a librarian while looking for a book. Automation was the order of the day, but so was saving librarians.

This idea is not unlike people who have stopped fling their emails but prefer an inbox with 10,000 emails. They can still find anything they want with a search function so why categorize? Because, most importantly to old school organizers, it is a way of thinking, but this is entirely unappealing to many. And so it is with shelving millions of books; we can search for the 'address' of any volume so why expend effort on physical order?

It may be the death of content, the death of visual organizing tools and the the death of the kind of analog order that pervades the corporeal world in which we actually live. But, ironically, it may be the salvation of the physicality of books. The New York Public Library has been threatened with 'mall-ification' and if disturbing the order of things saves the research library then we are willing to concede the point.

Fuck content, Size matters.