Friday, March 17, 2017
Consistent with the majority of the modern public world my library is full of cameras, quietly hanging out, filming everything all the time. I try not to think of this much. Like, for instance now, as I take a little break from shelving these Catherine Coulter novels and stand here writing in the fiction stacks, I try very hard not to think of being filmed. This is hard to do seeing as I'm writing about the very thing I am trying not to think about. I am not very good at not thinking about what I'm writing about. If you're into that scene I suggest you read the newspapers, or perhaps just about anything anyone writes about soccer.
So I'm being filmed. Ah, there's my local camera now, tucked up on a low ceiling, gazing down at me with its emotionless, black, insect eye. If I roll my book cart south and stand close to Don Quixote and the Michael Chabon books I may be out the field of view of it. Let's just sidle down there for a bit of privacy.
Fortunately, all hiding aside, my institution, the library, has gone the relatively restrictive route in regards to allowing anyone to access or view the footage taken here. I don't know the exact details of how the process goes, but I do know that it has to go all the way to the Library Director for anyone to receive any permission to look at our video feed. And our Library Director is currently a remote, ephemeral figure so far removed from where I stand now in the stacks, cowering away from the spotlight, that it could take months to reach her. By then the footage of me jotting furtively on yellow post-it notes while hunkered in the shadows of book shelves may all have been recorded over. There is some comfort in this thought.
Under this restrictive viewing system it is unlikely there will ever be an event so grave that I will be invited to view the footage of it. I can live with this. Given carte blanche I would perhaps find myself unable to resist the temptation of spending hours viewing our video feeds, tracking where the scissors go and finding just who can't manage to twist the glue cap closed to prevent it from drying out. I don't need to see more than I do. What I already see with my bare eyes is usually more than I can responsibly handle.