Libraries I Would Like to Create
By Ken St. Andre
Somebody send this on to Bill Gates for me, please. I need about ten million dollars a year, and none of it is for me, really. It’s for America.
Special libraries are those dedicated to a single topic. The topic may be broad like World Business, or narrow like Siamese Cats in Arizona, but what makes the library special is that it concentrates on a single topic.
There are some great special libraries in the world. I don’t know what they are, but I’m sure there must be some. If I had the money, I’d like to create several more.
So dream with me. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a comprehensive . . .
1. Gaming Library? Imagine, a library that had copies or facsimiles, or reconstructions of every game they could get. All the board games, card games, role-playing games, computer games. Some games exist as an idea—like poker. There are plenty of books about poker, but all you need to play it is a deck of cards and knowledge of the rules. A library that covered every game in the world would be huge. Heck, I’d be satisfied with a library that just covered all the games in English. I’d be satisfied with one that just covered all the role-playing games of the last forty years. I’d be happy with one that just covered computer space war games or mmorpgs. Such a library would be awesome, and very useful for all the game-ologists and game geeks in this country. It could explore related topics like gaming as training, gaming as therapy, gaming as strategic planning, simulation gaming to understand history—there are lots of topics related to gaming.
2. Comics Library? Imagine, all of D.C. and Marvel, and Image and Top Cow and Archie and Dell and Gold Key and Fantagraphics and . . .I’d want all the issues of the magazines as well as all the collections and graphic novels. I’d want a section devoted to comic strips and animated movies. And foreign comics. And comics magazines like Heavy Metal or Mad Magazine. What an incredibly happy library that would be!
3. Catalog Library? Imagine a library consisting of every product catalog ever issued. It sounds dull, but what a record of our civilization it would be. And what a resource for researchers. Some catalogs are just lists. Some have pictures. Some contain entertainment in the form of stories and poems. Some have reviews. Some are flimsy, but others are beautiful books. Catalogs exist for every manufactured item in the world. Some reference books are little better than catalogs, Jane’s All The World’s Aircraft, for example. And we don’t want just the latest catalogs, but all of them. The Landsend catalog of 1980 is just as useful as the one for 2009, maybe more so. How did people dress back then, and what did clothing really cost? A catalog library could turn out to be the most useful reference library in the world.
4. Software Library? Wouldn’t it be nice to save all the millions of programs ever created? Or even a fraction of them—just those that were really good, for example . . .
And then there’s the documentation necessary to explain them. What a resource such a library would be for the programmers of the world!
There’s an important caveat to be established here. We do not select the contents of these special libraries for “quality”. One man’s sow’s ear is another man’s silk purse. Let us select instead for completeness. If we mention quality, we’re talking about physical quality. Of course we want the best-looking items we can get for our libraries.
Ok, that’s four different special libraries. None of them exist, as far as I know. And it would take considerable resources to create any of them. The complete libraries that I evoke above are not feasible—there is just too much stuff out there. But, even incomplete ones could be of immeasurable worth to the scholars that would use them.
But . . . it’s just a dream, just a dream.