In the dream, I visited a place called The City Library.
In the dream, just outside of Washington DC there is a massive caravan
park. For miles and miles there are literally thousands of ancient 50s and 60s
era camper trailers laid out in a grid. It's part junk yard, part
intentional community, part resting place for nomads, and part slum.
On one side of the caravan park is a massive graveyard for shipping
containers and used rotting mattresses. There's a maze of these things stacked
On another side is miles and miles of abandoned farm land, overgrowing
with untended crops and populated with feral cows and goats. Small
patches have been reclaimed by permaculture squatters.
At the very heart of the caravan park however is its treasure. The
It is an outdoor library. The bookshelves are make-shift, made from
reclaimed scrap wood or packaging materials (cardboard wrapped in
plastic sheeting). Every book is in a plastic sleeve to protect it
from the rain. It is a library boiled down to its simplest essence,
books and a minimal but effective means of protecting them from the
elements, nothing more, nothing wasted. The library stretches as far
as the eye can see. Rows upon rows of these bookshelves, millions of
books, and hundreds or thousands of people browsing.
The library was founded as a completely cooperative venture. People
from the caravan park simply wanted to collectivize their books: store
them in one place, and share them. Over time, it grew and grew as more
and more people donated their personal book collection. People
inspired by the library, bequeathed their personal libraries to this
collection upon their death.
There are no librarians, there is no checkout system. The library is
free and self-organizing. People take books, people return books,
people organize books, people build shelves, people package and
incorporate donates...it's all done at the community level without
employees or even a non-profit corporation or association.
I have a conversation with someone who is an expert on the history of
the library. Apparently a sign of its extreme moral legitimacy is that
the library recently received a major grant of millions of
dollars. They could have used it for nicer shelving, a fancy security
system to prevent book theft, a building, nice furniture, or any
number of other amenities...but instead they spent it all on more
plastic sheathes for the books and other very simple very humble items
directly relevant to the on-going collection and protection of as many
books as possible. They don't want to have anything that needs to be
maintained, anything that adds to the overhead, anything that would be
expensive to replace, anything valuable enough to sell off. They just
want to have a vast number of books to share, protected from the rain.
I'm in a building with a vast datacenter that is networked to all the
rooms in the building through various conduits. We're exploring the
conduits. I used to run this network. I notice some fiber optic cables
of an unexpected color running to an unexpected junction. Tracing the
cables I see that they actually go out the window to another
building. Someone has physically hacked in. Who? For what? Why?
I'm at IMSA trying to meet someone for a date (someone my age who
happens to live there, maybe an RC). I get lost and confused about
which residence hall I'm supposed to be in. I'm not sure if I've got a
keycard, so I'm wary of going through certain doors. I run across RCs
who don't recognize me but other alumni who do. I run across kids who
seem way too young and confuse me with their kid culture.
I'm at a hotel with many confusing passages and hallways, trying to
find out how to acquire a room and make payment, possibly near the
City Library, possibly specifically set up for tourists who
want to visit the Library but who don't want to slum it in the
adjacent caravan park.