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Lt FlopsLt Flops 08 Mar 2021 01:15
in discussion Per Page Discussion / Per page discussions » Overdue

I love this to bits. From the extravagant names, to the fascinating discussion about magical weirdness, to the humour. Very fun read.

RE: Crow-CatCrow-Cat above — for a moment, this felt like it was about the growth of the SCP Wiki and efforts to move it off Wikidot onto its own platform, but I think that's coincidental more than anything.

by Lt FlopsLt Flops, 08 Mar 2021 01:15

I'm unfortunately leaning toward a downvote because, as much as I like the core premise,1 I had some issues.

Firstly, the tense. The entry shifts between past- and present-tense, sometimes within the same sentence, and at one point, it goes into something you might construe as future-tense? All of these distract from the reading.

My second issue is with, not so much the imagery itself, but the way imagery is used. This entry is imaginative, and successful at portraying the ever-splitting thought path of a writer. It's also too trapped in metaphor.2 Sure — the writing process is, largely, an internalized one. And yes, most writing is done within a mundane and narrow set of interactions3 — so it pays to be elaborate to sustain interest. But at times this goes too far, and I found myself lost in the character's thoughts, and not in a good way. I was more confused than captivated. As well, a neat image is sometimes introduced and then just as quickly moved on from, which is grating.

Now, just like Deci mentioned, this also resonated with me. Everyone in this hobby knows what writers' block is like! And I can so relate to the idea jotting down stray ideas and then never doing anything with them. I do that on a practically daily basis. But I dunno, I couldn't quite find myself enjoying it. It gave me a lot to think about, though, so in the end, I think that's where it excels.

by Lt FlopsLt Flops, 08 Mar 2021 00:00

I'm pleasantly surprised to see that this survived. I know there isn't really a "first-article curse", but it's still nice to have a good start.

Thanks to everyone who gave advice! It means the world to me to see people enjoying this little story.

+7 by Fish Salad EnbyFish Salad Enby, 06 Mar 2021 20:25


the void by revenge papsrevenge paps, 04 Mar 2021 14:57

I like to think that in some parts of the Library, the appearance of the rooms changes to match what books are there. In a section on Assyria, it looks like the Library of Ashurbanipal; a section on the Ming Dynasty might look like Tianyi Ge. They're not copies, of course, but the general style of architecture is similar.

In general my mental image is kind of what you'd see in the older public libraries in the Northeast and in Europe, though. Kind of geographically limited, but I do like the style and it's evocative.

I feel like there's a fairly good compromise between these ideas where parts of the library that are full of weird generally useless writing like ikea instruction booklets or business cards or what have you do exist, but you would have to make purposeful effort to get to those areas. An infinite library isn't necessarily an unsorted one after all, and ways could open into areas of the library containing writing that people arriving through that way would find generally useful or expected.

I'm a pessimist who likes to call himself a realist. Ah well.

Thanks to noob53433 (Discord name) for crit.

The Author is Me by ThePianoMan1616ThePianoMan1616, 03 Mar 2021 04:14

It may make it more magical, but I feel like it would conflict with the Library's portrayal in most of the original fiction that established it, as well as make it functionally useless for the purposes it's usually stated as being used for. In most of the fiction that deals with it (at least, most of the fiction I've read), the Library is a mecca of learning and knowledge, and a popular site to do research. That is first and foremost its function (with it being a secure refuge and nexus of Ways being secondary functions).

A library's usefulness is not only determined by what it has, it is determined by what it leaves out. A library that takes everything is less useful than one that does, because it will be harder to search through the irrelevant minutia to find what you need. And, to step away from shampoo bottles and instead to address whether or not it has everything written, if it holds every work written it will be impossible to find reliable information if you don't already know exactly what sources you are looking for, or have enough prior familiarity with the subject to tell what's false and what's not. And that's a lot harder to get when you're dealing with works from a totally different world.

I have a mental image of someone going into the Wanderer's Library and trying to find information on Egypt, and half the sources tell them that the pyramids were built by aliens. While I obviously don't expect that every book in the Library would be true, I'd hope that the Archivists would still excise what was basically worthless.

i like this take a lot, and it's kind of what i imagine too; that there is the Library component and the Patron component of what stuff is in the library. your idea about the works that are told very differently from ours is interesting—i wonder if someone could perform a song or create a room of dancing lights somewhere in the library, and find a recording or transcription of sorts of it somewhere else, as an intersection of the library and patron components.

also yeah i could totally imagine certain kinds of recognizable cultural items showing up in there. kind of the the same way the MoMA has an Aeron Chair in it at all times.

i only have a vague conception of why—i think the works in the library would have something to do with physicality. i can totally imagine various people setting up wi-fi around the library, and patrons documenting what's there in some sort of unofficial-official database (though the librarians would all know anyways), but i just don't think the library's infinite shelves would really contain e-books necessarily. maybe there's a shelf full of usbs or cd-roms with files on them that way, but i just get the sense that everything in the library is transcribed in some form or another into a physical form. a book, or a parchment, or some graffiti or etching in a window, or even a little tiny computer that only plays one video game or whatever. but i think a physical component (like the kind one could check out) would probably be necessary.

it's a lot more fun to imagine someone making the long trek to a different aisle to find a specific book, rather than just being able to download it from wherever in the library—this translates, on some level, to the works on this site! i think that, while it'd be kind of humorous, there's a mystique lost when all the works on this site could just be in-universe ebooks or files downloaded exactly the same way as i am out-of-universe, on my browser. compare that with the analogy of Browsing the Shelves when i'm looking at the works on this site—it gives the works here a lot more heft.

then again maybe there's a non-physical component of the library for non-physical patrons. a little thoughtform just shows up and checks out a non-physical idea. makes sense to me. but i think that would be difficult to access for the physically-inclined of us.

I always assumed that the Library houses Everything, in Any Form, that could constitute as a culture text — so, of course, books, but also movies, art, music, board games, video games, photographs, clothing, buildings… Honestly, the less constraints you're putting on your creativity here, the better. And, as I said earlier — things that are mundane to us, like the aforementioned shampoo bottles or ramen packets, could very well be a priceless alien artifact to someone from another universe, and the Library definitely isn't human-centered, so I don't see why not. Maybe there is a race of aliens that's desperately searching for some chemical that's commonly used in human shampoos, but they can't just go on Earth for whatever reason, and they find that in the Library, because the label is safely archived in the hygiene section. Who knows!

If there are texts from other universes or civilizations that have reached space age long before humans did, then it would actually make less sense to not have an online database in my opinion. There are some entries that explore the online aspect of things in-universe, like stories that use Void or that one story about looking for a place to move in (the name eludes me rn unfortunately), which had an entire Library intranet system iirc :D So why not go out on a limb here and assume that there is an online database? I feel like it only makes sense.

Counterpoint: if you assume there are things like a marketplace, a food court, living quarters, bathrooms or anything of the sort in the Library (and the general consensus seems to be that there are places like this), then there definitely are shampoo bottle labels in there :P Even more — I think that having these seemingly irrelevant things actually archived would make the Library more magical. The Archivists aren't human, after all, so you can't expect them to follow the same logic as humans do — maybe to them, the earthly ramen instructions are just as valuable as a sacred text from a galaxy far, far away :D

I see the Library as a kind of entity in itself, with its own tastes, to some degree. Stuff that catches the interest of the vast, alien mind of the Library may simply appear somewhere, maybe even generating new shelves or new areas to contain it. Librarians may not always understand its choices, but they'll hold onto stuff that appears spontaneously, even if it seems odd, recording and reshelving it as necessary. Sometimes the story is not a literal text, but can be divined in some way from a unique object.

Which is not to say that Librarians don't add things intentionally. With access to vast numbers of worlds, they probably seek out mostly texts that are special in some way, to make copies of rare works, to save works from worlds on the brink of disaster, etc. It wouldn't be strictly books or even strictly texts, either. I would imagine everything from halls full of artwork, to banks of computers, to rooms that are full of dancing lights, or songs, or whispering voices, to record the stories of beings that use language very differently from us.

Also there's at least one Dr. Bronner's soap bottle in the Library's collection.

Yeah, this is why I tend to not have a lot of interest in writing something that happens solely in the Library, and tend to write documents that are archived in it.

Though to clarify, I don't think that the mediums are exclusively physical. I didn't mean to imply that they were—by "conventional material," I meant something that's some sort of information storage in the same way books are and that they don't have lending out hammers and saws as a major part of their operations. Tool libraries are technically libraries, but that sort of stuff isn't really what the general image of the Wanderer's Library is, and I don't want to change that.

See, I can respect your view, but I think it's a lot less whimsical and fantastical. It's not the kind of perspective I'm all that interested in writing/reading from. If I wanted to read/write about a normal library but bigger and more secret, I'd just read/write about a normal library but bigger and more secret. There's a sort of magic to the place, regardless of what shape it takes.

It could be so vast and expansive that there are hidden cultures who got lost searching for material, or so organized that you need not even look to find what you seek. And these are just the simplistic ones. So, to me, the idea that it's exclusively physical mediums in this place is just kind of uninteresting. But that's the beauty of having no canon I suppose.

i would say works of art generally are also included—i'm sure there's statues and paintings littering the place. i can imagine sections of the library that are more museum than library. and real-life libraries have like, collections of movies too! cds, vcrs, maybe even records. the caveat i would think of is that it would need to be in some kind of physical form, probably, even if it's in some kind of weird alien USB. i can't imagine the Library capital L as having an online database, haha. or maybe it does! someone should write that.

I've never viewed it as a place where stories are housed--I've always viewed it as nothing more, and nothing less, than the most vast library in the multiverse (note that I don't view it as infinite). There's plenty there that's not a story--academic works, legal documents, letters, maps; hell they might include a genomic library or seed library (but generally I feel that their overwhelming emphasis should be on more conventional material)--so while the backs of shampoo bottles and the instructions on Ramen packets don't count as stories, that's not why they're not included.

They're not included because they're irrelevant minutia. Just as the Library of Congress doesn't archive every single tweet, the Library doesn't archive every single piece of writing. The Archivists show some selection in what they take, otherwise the Library would quickly become unusable. Most webcomics and webfiction, likewise, wouldn't be included because of the judgment of the Archivists—but they're most certainly stories.

I've always imagined the library being as much a place or a location as it is somewhere that stories are housed, so it's very easy for me to imagine that it houses stories in forms other than material.

Consider, for example, if there were a tribe of nomadic gremlin-type creatures who dwelled within the library and repeated oral tales to each other as tradition. If the library truly houses all stories, something like that would be a natural fit. After all, how would they keep tales that aren't written down?

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