Friday, December 7, 2012

Borges, Memory, and the Library

From "This Is Your Brain on Borges":

In Buenos Aires, he contacted the author's widow, MarĂ­a Kodama, and after several long discussions, she invited him to visit Borges's private library. Quiroga made repeated visits, experiencing what he says felt like an "intimate conversation" with the icon of Argentine literature. ...

"It was like a treasure," he says, describing his sojourn in Borges's stacks, where he found books by William James, Gustav Spiller, and other figures in philosophy and psychology.
Quiroga was excited by Borges's annotations. Not marginalia exactly. Borges liked to write notes on the title page or last page of a book, in a minuscule hand, before he went blind. Later he would ask those reading to him to write the annotations. ... 

We live in a "Funes kind of world," he writes, suggesting that the media's bombardment of our senses gives a feeling of the inundation that Borges's protagonist [in "Funes the Memorious"] endures.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Open Access Saves

From "Open Access to Scientific Research Can Save Lives":
Every institution of higher learning should ensure that peer-reviewed versions of all future scholarly articles by its faculty members are made open-access through a designated repository that captures the institution's intellectual output.

Monday, October 1, 2012

A Book Only in the Abstract Sense?

One of my companions today has been The Oxford Companion to the Book. While reading the online version, I discovered that I was only reading a book in "the abstract, non-corporeal sense":
book (1): A word that has long been used interchangeably and variously to signify any of the many kinds of text that have been circulated in written or printed forms, and the material objects through which those words and images are transmitted. The ancestor of the modern word ‘book’ is used in both senses in Anglo-Saxon documents. This Oxford Companion is a book in the abstract, non-corporeal sense (and can be thus described in its Internet manifestation), and also in the physical sense of a three-dimensional object in codex format. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Paradox of Writing

"The paradox lies in the fact that the deadness of the text, its removal from the living human lifeworld, its rigid visual fixity, assures its endurance and its potential for being resurrected into limitless living contexts by a potentially infinite number of living readers." --Walter Ong, "Orality and Literacy: Writing Restructures Consciousness"

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Advent of the Unwritten Book in the New Atlantis

"The Book contained all the canonical books of the Old and New Testament, according as you have them ... and the Apocalypse itself, and some other books of the New Testament, which were not at that time written, were nevertheless in the Book."

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Cyrus Cylinder: Historical Object and Emblem

Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, traces 2600 years of Middle Eastern history through the Cyrus Cylinder:

Saturday, September 8, 2012

New Form of an Old Icebreaker

At the end of Mary Shelley's apocalyptic novel The Last Man, a story of the future told from ancient Sibylline leaves, the last man sets off in a boat with "scant stores" and "a few books." If you were the last human, what books would you select?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

For the Record

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We expect to be back in <%= deadline %>. For more information, check out Twitter Status. Thanks for your patience!

Monday, July 16, 2012

From Gutenberg to Gruenewald

Several Bible publishers and license holders, however, have allowed sites such as YouVersion and BibleGateway to publish their versions digitally since they have found it has not hindered print sales, but has actually increased them and provided broad network of promotion.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

From Ebooks to Networked Books

Hugh McGuire asks: What is the difference between an ebook and the internet? Ebooks can be made to look like print books, but they are more like the internet. The best future for the book would be p+e+i. E.g., YouVersion:­ a “Bible App [that] allows users to read the Bible, share verses with their social networks, bookmark their favorite passages, and more.”

Here is McGuire's TEDx Montreal talk, “The Blurring Lines Between Books and the Internet”:

Friday, March 16, 2012

Charles Williams on Librarians

From “The Masque of Perusal,” originally performed before the staff of the Oxford University Press in the Amen House library, London, February 8, 1929:

But let me bring you to the Librarian,
Who—as the song goes, through the city chanted—
Will give such information as is wanted.

On the ancient laws of Solon,
            On the mechanics and on men,
On the place of either colon,
            On the acuter abdomen,
On physic for the body and the mind
The Keeper offers help of every kind.

On the secret name of Sunday,
            On the causes of the war,
On the rise of Mrs. Grundy,
            Khalif, pope, and emperor,
And on the causes of all joy and woe,
The Keeper lets her information flow.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Another Apologia for the Personal Library

Leon Wieseltier, over at the The New Republic, contemplates his personal library as it is being moved. (Sound familiar?) He says: 
The library, like the book, is under assault by the new technologies, which propose to collect and to deliver texts differently, more efficiently, outside of space and in a rush of time.
But as he considers the crates piled high in the hall, he defends his volumes: 
My books are not dead weight, they are live weight—matter infused by spirit, every one of them, even the silliest. They do not block the horizon; they draw it. They free me from the prison of contemporaneity: one should not live only in one’s own time. A wall of books is a wall of windows. And a book is more than a text: even if every book in my library is on Google Books, my library is not on Google Books. A library has a personality, a temperament.
Much of this resonated with me, but then he quotes Borges—“I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library”—and concludes that, “if paradise lies in the future, it will certainly not be a library. A different arrangement awaits our minds.”

Perhaps the promise of the paradisiacal library is that it will manifest a different arrangement or pattern. Until then, our libraries “reveal and represent to us what was, what is, and what is to come” (that’s me, defending my library”).

Monday, February 13, 2012

Envisioning Bibliotheca 2.0

From Project Information Literacy, an interview with Jeffrey Schnapp
the most exciting design tasks of our era lie at the seam where the digital meets the physical. So designing libraries for the digital millennium is less a matter of updating a building type with tens of centuries of history and tradition than an endeavor that cuts right to the heart of some of the most pressing challenges confronting contemporary architecture: how to devise new typologies of public space, new kinds of furnishings and appliances, new places for research, teaching, learning, and of interaction and play around/with knowledge, new citadels of expertise that “speak the language” of the era of mobile devices, ubiquitous networks, and the world wide web. What is a public space in an era in which a majority of individuals walk around in bubbles containing information and social networks?
I'm confident about the enduring vitality of the library as a public institution. What is in crisis is a certain historical iteration of the library, not the library itself. …
The notion of the library as a place of retreat … bespeaks an urge to seek out alternatives to the everyday: expanded horizons; deeper states of being (concentration, communion, silent contemplation); participation and inclusion in the life of communities dedicated to knowledge, science or faith; travel to distant real or fictional worlds.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Real Conflict: Sharing or Not Sharing Knowledge

In “The Shock of the Old” (Libray Journal), Barbara Fister discusses the Education Advisory Board’s report Redefining the Academic Library: Managing the Migration to Digital Library Services. She says that this report does not predict the future but rather describes the present. And the present isn’t really about the shift from print to digital—it’s about sharing knowledge:
In the end, unless we really screw this up, the future will more like the past than the present. Libraries were built on the principle that the advancement of knowledge depends on a disinterested search for meaning, not profits, and that sharing is essential for that search. Libraries have always been a demonstration of the wealth of networks. Now that the networked world has caught up, libraries could serve as a model for sharing knowledge in a way that advances us all.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012