If you have heard about the Slow Food or Slow Money movements, then the concepts I’m about to try and flesh out may sound familiar. I was reading this blog post recently A proposal for author rankings | TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics. I don’t think Richard Herley’s solution is the best one, because it could be easily gamed by savvy authors. However, I have found that since I got a Kindle, a little over a year ago, that it is nearly impossible to try and parse self-published authors. I try one and really like it and the next recommendation based on that read is absolutely terrible. The sheer volume of works available makes it difficult to find the pearls.
Lately I’ve been also been seeing a lot of press given to the inclusion of maker/hacker space at public libraries. Libraries have always been the keepers of community history and are attempting to propel themselves back to prominence as leaders of the community and spearheading new technologies. There has also been a lot of animosity recently between libraries, publishers and retail distributors.
In reading all of this, I haven’t seen any recommendations, or theorizing about Slow Libraries, which I think could provide solutions to at least some of these issues. The idea would be for libraries to create self-publishing stations, classes, and guidance for their communities. This would allow them to deal directly with authors to determine lending, purchasing and DRM guidelines. They could then create partnerships with local independent booksellers to promote and sell the works of authors in their communities. The community’s book clubs could also participate by taking advantage of group decision-making to review and rate the books with some validity and reliability.
This type of community interaction and investment would bring libraries to the forefront of their communities in ways that would stall some of the current arguments about the use of public funding to support them. I could see this system growing into a reliable, vetted, grassroots campaign to connect communities in an increasingly global market. The next question is, where do we start? Do libraries have the resources to be able to take on this kind of project and make it a reality? Does it need to start with the more experienced self-published authors, or is that too much to ask? I don’t have the answers to those questions and I’m struggling to even figure out how to promote this idea within my own community. So pass the word, Slow Libraries are the future.
Update: 6/27/13 removed image due to broken link