Friday, February 4, 2011

Libraries and Influence

It would be interesting to bring Mark Edmundson’s Narcissus Regards a Book” (The Chronicle) into the patron-driven acquisition discussion. Here is an excerpt: 
Narcissus looks into the book review and finds it good. Narcissus peers into Amazon's top 100 and, lo, he feels the love. Nothing insults him; nothing pulls him away from that gorgeous smooth watery image below. ... 
Is it possible that in the world now there are people who might suffer not from an anxiety that they might be influenced but rather from an anxiety that they might never be? Perhaps not everyone loves himself with complete conviction and full abandon. Maybe there remain those who look into the shimmering flattering glass of current culture and do not quite like what they see. Maybe life isn't working for them as well as it is supposed to be for all in this immeasurably rich and unprecedentedly free country. 
Reading in pursuit of influence—that, I think, is the desired thing.