Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Whale Biography

In the past, our Library used to separate biographies from the rest of the collection. It didn't matter if the person was a merchant banker, a cowboy, a botanist, or a ballerina - all their biographies and autobiographies sat together in the Biography section. A few years ago, all those biographies were reclassified, putting ballerinas with ballet and cowboys with the wild west.

In even more recent Library history, we have started putting 'Biography' stickers on biographies, so that they are easier to spot on the shelf (some people miss the old browseable Biography section). Every three months, it is my turn to review the new books and slap on those stickers.

Everything was going fine last time, until I came to the biography of Keiko.

Does the life story of a famous whale get a Biography sticker? We went to and fro on it. We couldn't decide. It IS the story of someone's life. Even the subject heading for the book says 'Killer whales - Biography'. But it's a whale and not a person.

What would you do?

6 Comments:

Anonymous Paul said...

Give it a sticker. m-w.com says a biography is "an account of the life of something (as an animal, a coin, or a building)"

8:48 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I second the motion - since when is the life of another being on this planet any lesser than that of a human ... now if it came to that of a flea ... that may be another story. But humans would't be documenting that anyway.

4:08 pm  
Blogger Gwen said...

Okay, so whales 'yes', fleas 'no'. But what about the animals in between? For example, and this is a real live book title in our collection, "Scarlett saves her family : the heart-warming true story of a homeless mother cat who rescued her kittens from a raging fire". Does Scarlett get a biography sticker? She's valiant, but very much shorter than a whale.

4:16 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Scarlett should. I dreamt of mother cats and their kittens for years - they were very much of an archtype for me. They went away once I had children. I think Scarlett deserves a place in our human scale of value - even if she's a bit shorter than a whale (hmm, what about baby whales?).

7:35 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would call it a biolography (writing about a living thing), and if the whale wrote it, a autobiolgraphy. My own coined word.

3:23 pm  
Blogger liz said...

What about an especially important and nice tree, then?

12:19 pm  

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