Knovvmads Magazine

Wind on the bow of every library

Wind on the bow of every library

Many of those who are able to do so, have made the decision to transfer or move to their summer homes on the coast. During the dark start of a new year, proximity to the ocean may appear to provide some normalcy and security. If we were inclined to wax lyrical in this blog, which is not the case, we could literally play with marine angst like a nostalgia for the past. But, if we put an ear to a shell we would are likely to end up with a crab earing, just like in a Bruguera comic. 

Speak to me of the ocean, librarian. I cannot see it from my window

Qingpu Pinghe International School in Shanghái has recently premiered the Pinghe Bibliotheater, a library and movie theater, all in one. Because of its exterior shape some refer to it as the transatlantic, while others call it the blue whale. If we had to choose, we would opt for the later. I would select Moby Dick (even if white) over the Titanic, because of Melville’s classic work. But also, because it was a whale that gave shelter to Jonas. Which is much like what librarians do although not due to divine guidance.

The OPEN architectural school, artifices of the building, lay the conceptual foundation for the library-theater on the idea that reading and thought, fundamentally critical components of education: should be expressed through representations. Something that tends to ail educational systems.

The Library/Theater is a library cultural and educational archipelago formed by a cinema with 500 seats, a theater for 150 spectators and a cafe. In the belly of that library anyone would want to spend much more time than the prophet spent in the whale. 

China also brought us the social media app whose popularity conquered the web: Tik-Tok. Its original name was “Douyin,” to shake the music in Chinese. The two syllables reminiscent of the sound of hands on a watch or a metronome marking a rhythm have taken an international leap. Currently one of Tik-Tok’s latest fads is marine themed songs. Under the hashtag #seashantytok, users are sharing music videos of themselves singing classics captain Ahab’s crew would happily join in song.

The unexpected development lead British Library Publishing to move up the publishing date of their printed book: Sailor Song, The Shanties and Ballads of the High Seas. It is a compilation of marine songs and ballads interpreted by Gerry Smith, a singer and university professor, illustrated by Jonny Hannayh with images from the British Library’s archives. 

Libraries are debating whether or not to embrace the Tik-Tok trend, but it has not yet been widely adopted.

Fernando Gabriel Gutierrez, suggests that there are various pros and cons to balance in the consideration. With these in mind, libraries have decided to move forward and timidly populating the network, heaped in constant memes and choreographies. One of the most recent libraries take it up is the Public Library of Calgary in Canada. And, after 8 months of review they can already offer an assessment of the pros and cons for those who are considering the possibility.

During the pandemic the team at Calgary managed to connect with a great segment of their potential public on the site: adolescents. Leaning towards the comical, as it could not be any other way; the library has used humor to transmit everything from recommendations regarding the use of masks, incorrect behaviors in library installations, and of course book suggestions. The results have been a great diffusion of their videos among their intended.

Two technicians from the library’ staff are in charge of uploading the content, on which up to 20 colleagues collaborate to produce scripts, giving suggestions and filming videos. 

Among the campaigns they have launched, canoodling (kissing and cuddling amorously), is meant to warn young people who use their libraries that kissing with a mask on is not a practice that complies with the sanitary safety requirements of dealing with Covid-19. It is possible librarians simply misunderstood the motivations of young people, and they were just emulating The Lovers by Magritte.

In bringing this crossing to close, having begun on the oceans that wrap the earth to finish with the networks of information and media that envelope our world like water, I can think of nothing better than referencing the band from The Life Aquatic (2004). Seu Jorge Bossa Nova covers of David Bowie in the fashion of Bossa Nova are as calming to our mood as loosing oneself in starring at the sea.