The ghosts in the Abbey were quiet the night before, so that I could get a good night’s sleep before the continued bibliographic analysis with the knights of the roundtable. The great thing about doing a seminar with people bringing different facets of knowledge is the possibility to be surprised. If not surprised, then satisfied. I’m satisfied with the fact there was a tea kettle and packets of tea in my room in the nunnery.
So the morning was started like avocado on toast, bibliographic brain food and fairness. Fairness, I say, happens when you tell an honest story. Cataloging, as I know it in the library world, needs to be fair because it follows a standard and an institution. Cataloging in the book trade needs to be fair because it reflects the person, your ability as a human to tell a narrative that is honest. That record reflect you.
During the cataloging workshop, I found working collaboratively was the most helpful. Typically a library cataloger works alone and consults standards when necessary. Your ability reflects your decision making and that comes into question frequently. I suppose the same rings true in the trade, but I would like to think that cataloging in the trade is composing a narrative that genuinely reflects how you relate and gravitate to the material in the first place and honestly how you would like others to share in that spectral place. [I’m pretty sure by now, I know the difference between ‘uncut’ ‘untrimmed’ ‘unopened’ and boy, that sounds dirty.] Do you dwell on the crappy parts of the book? Yeah, the spine is cracked, say so, but move on.
It was especially great to hear from Jenny Allsworth and the challenges and benefits to becoming a specialty dealer. I think more than anything for me, personal narrative is so critical and I love that she shared her personal story to illuminate her experience working in the trade. If we were robots, sure things would get done, but to have a visceral experience while often difficult, makes the nervous ambition and twitch seem worth. Makes it human.
Speaking of more great humans, we finished the afternoon off with Tim Pye, Libraries Curator at the National Trust, speaking frankly, as a librarian and the relationship to booksellers. As Simon points out, it is very dynamic relationship, and speaking from experience, one that requires devotion and efforts. I learned a thing! I didn’t know this existed: Special Collections and Social Media. Super helpful thing. Incidentally, Jonathan, also spent a good amount of time talking about the benefits of social media and how cohesive, satisfying?, and arguably, the breadth and depth of a splendid online presence proves. You put yourself out there and yes, you are vulnerable. It also shows a commitment to transparency about your business practices, interests, and accounts for your willing to the fluidity of change with the communication age. Seriously, the brilliance of a hashtag is sometimes astounding. Again, ironically, finishing out the day talking with Anthony about ‘brick and mortar’ shops is well-rounded. I don’t think we can rely on the physical institution of the book store to stay the same, as the notion was echoed here. We don’t have to necessarily like Facebook, or Twitter, etc. but they are tools. Not tool, as in annoying guy in the supermarket on the phone talking about his spiritual awakening, but a device to create a symbiotic identity between a face and a function.
To come…the last bit of Day 3, and the York Antiquarian Brown Book Fair. I mean, the York Antiquarian Book Fair.
[Addendum: I almost forgot the Book Shop tour of York! Walking tours of various generous shops with open doors, we skirted around the cobblestones streets into crannies of low hanging ceilings and sweated a lot. It was unseasonably warm]