with apologies to The Archers' scriptwriter Nawal Gadalla (original version here at 04:50)
AFTERNOON AT BRIDGE FARM
PAT Sell the books! Are you out of your mind?
TONY Is this a wind-up?
TOM No, I'm serious. I'm not suggesting we shut the Library completely. My idea would mean we could expand our services because we'd have more time to do other things. It's been on my mind for a long time. Ever since I worked out how to use that thing Brenda gave me for Christmas.
PAT Which was?
PAT Which was?
TOM A Kindle. It's great, you can read all the books you need on it.
TONY Providing you buy them from Amazon. You're using the excuse of this toy to slip in another hare-brained idea.
TOM I know it's huge but it hasn't come from nowhere...
... I've thought it through. I spend all my waking hours painstakingly thinking about the future of this Library. I work until 9 every night and then I do overtime till the small hours. I'm a very busy person and therefore my views are much more important than anyone else's.
PAT You see, it really worries me that you can think about something “painstakingly” and the result is so bafflingly stupid.
TOM It's ok. It's a lot to take in, and you are both very slow because you only have to deal with books all day. You're bound to be defensive.
TONY Don't talk to Senior Librarians like that.
PAT It's you who needs to make your case. We're Librarians, for heaven's sake, how can we call ourselves that if there aren't any books?
TOM We have, up to now, bred books ...
... But there's no real reason to carry on doing it.
TONY No reason?
PAT You just can't be bothered with them and that's the truth. You've never had a feeling for them.
TOM Look, can you just stop sniping for one minute. You wanted to hear my reasons but you won't let me get to first base.
PAT Well come on then, let's hear these reasons.
TOM Right. Since I got the Kindle, dealing with books has become like this massive burden.
TONY It comes with the territory.
TOM But it needn't, that's my point. You've heroically taken on the morning shelving, and that's great, it's really helped free me up, but I want to be more productive.
TONY But what's more productive than putting books on the shelves?
TOM Others can supply the content online.
PAT That seems absurd to me. You want us to sell our best asset and then buy in what we've just lost.
TOM But we'd only need to buy in what we actually use. It's called just in time delivery.
PAT Where's the authenticity? We'll lose all our integrity if we start buying in content from God knows where.
TOM It would still be academic.
PAT But we wouldn't own it Tom, can't you see the distinction? Our content would lose all its credibility.
TONY Well said. It would be a deceit. We'd be falsely promoting it as academic content selected by us, when it isn't.
TOM But it's what they learn that matters. And that would still happen in the University. I don't think people care as much about where the content comes from as you think they do.
PAT I do.
TOM The real test will be in whether people like the content. There'd be no need to compromise on the level of service. We'd buy in the best because we could afford to. No buildings to service, no books to buy, catalogue and circulate, and no staff salaries …
TONY No Library, in fact.
TOM Oh, come on. And instead of checking books in I could be out there …
PAT Oh don't tell me. Transcending silos and delivering multifaceted information sources to release synergies for all who hunger for knowledge! I hate it Tom. I absolutely hate it. And you don't seem to see what my problem is at all. Or do you?
TOM It's the way the world is now, Mum. Everyone outsources in business.
TONY Yes well I'm naieve enough to think of myself as a Librarian, not a businessman.
TOM You have to plan a few steps ahead in business and sometimes that means thinking the unthinkable. It's called vision. All I'm asking is that you at least consider it.