Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Revelatory Power of Books

At the Northwest Archivists annual meeting last week, I gave a presentation called “The Apocalypse of the Book.” Here is the description submitted to the program committee:
We have all heard about the end of the book. As books migrate en masse into digital repositories or offsite depositories, it is important to remember that new revelations—apocalypses—can be found in old books, which are both records and artifacts. With a focus on teaching and research, this presentation will highlight some of the ends for which archival books can be used.
Here are the slides that accompanied the talk:

At the other Penrose Library (the one I work at is named after a younger cousin), there is “No Room for Books.” According to Inside Higher Ed, the University of Denver plans “to permanently move four-fifths of the Penrose Library’s holdings to an off-campus storage facility.” Rather than housing “legacy collections” on site, the library will maintain a “teaching collection.”

In the article’s comments section, one student writes:
The University of Denver's library has some incredibly beautiful, incredibly old, incredibly useful books--regardless of whether they've been checked out or not. The ambiance of a library is supposed to be stacks and stacks of books that allow students to get lost in subjects outside of their own area of study. No one will be drawn to the library without books. We will study elsewhere. We already have places to "hang out". Leave our books in peace.