Extra on Trying out Library Books

Do you know which you can minimize a US #10 envelope in half, paste it onto the within again cowl of a e book, after which use a 3×5 inch index card together with the useful date stamp you requested on your birthday to create due date playing cards on your personal library? This perception is dropped at you by my 9 year-old self. An illustrative instance, however with out the precise illustrations or the fuller insights of a number of books concerning the intensive ways in which individuals join with libraries, together with their childhood expertise of getting a library card, testing books, studying, and repeating that joyful cycle of returning, renewing, testing new books. Or of creating a library at residence. Over the past weeks the Washington Publish declared this a brand new “Golden Age of Public Libraries” and the New York Times featured Reid Byer’s new book on The Personal Library and the phenomenon of feeling “book-wrapt,” the “exhilarating consolation of a well-stocked library.”

public library
New York Public Library, one hundred and thirty fifth Avenue Department. Picture courtesy of the NYPL.

Final month I wrote about books about libraries and librarians, and requested for recommendations from readers. Within the submit’s feedback and on social media people responded generously and with enthusiasm for a topic that unites many people. Wherever we work in scholarly communications, we’re readers and we’re aware of how data will get made and handed. Libraries and librarians have been, are, and can proceed to be central to those core actions. If the unique submit was a crowdsourcing request, this submit is a report again with a little bit of reflection and a promise to maintain compiling this record. (A cool thrill for me was having Rachel Kadish, creator of one in every of my favourite novels The Weight of Ink – which I wrote about for The Scholarly Kitchen in 2017 – learn the books being really helpful within the submit feedback after which make her personal advice!)

By their very nature libraries seize a way of risk, of humanity’s most formidable and beneficiant impulses to be taught, to know, to share. Libraries have been the location of extraordinary aggregations of data, and act as neighborhood facilities for a lot of sorts of communities. Libraries have weathered wars, and have been sites of resistance. Expectations for libraries and for librarians are excessive, and might come at huge value to each the establishments and the individuals when sources to assist their work fail to match these expectations.

Libraries are additionally cultural and social establishments, made by and thru financial and political methods. They’ll absolutely mirror the assumptions and biases of the context by which they’re created and maintained. Whether or not public or private, general or research or special collections, a library is constituted, made, formed, by an authentic founding and mission after which over time by generations of those that work in it and for it. Generally libraries expire or endure destruction. The sharp politics of data is sort of fixed throughout historical past – what’s data, who makes it, who controls entry to it – and so are the politics of books and libraries. 

The books that have been really helpful mirror these dynamics of libraries and librarians’ work they usually additionally could mirror what a few of us working in scholarly communications are studying about one of many central establishments in our enterprise — once we’re studying for pleasure. On all counts an fascinating record.

I’ve compiled the total record right here, inside some themes that emerged in studying both particular person books or pairing books. Sure, I both learn the e book or one thing about it for every of those titles!  However to be clear about how very partial is that this record, there’s a fantastic literature in articles about libraries and librarians — in widespread media and in educational scholarship — that isn’t included right here, as a result of we at all times want some particularly book-focused nerdiness in my opinion, although articles would additionally make for an incredible submit. There’s a dense and intense discipline of the historical past of the e book that’s lacking right here, and there’s a historical past of libraries as mirrored in library faculties that’s additionally lacking. However for these of us who work in scholarly communications in any of the numerous numerous skilled positions on this business, merely studying and pondering extra about an establishment that connects us all appears necessary.

The record solely scratches the floor of the complicated and interesting world that’s libraries, and is heavy on each the US and the early trendy interval so please hold sending your suggestions! I’ve additionally saved the record on a google doc which I’ll replace.


The world of fiction about authors, books, libraries, and librarians is thrilling, even mesmerizing.  A number of the books that folk really helpful come close to to fantasy, whereas others are historic fiction.

The Book of Form and Emptiness, by Ruth Ozeki.

Cloud Cuckoo Land, by Anthony Doerr.

The Personal Librarian, by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray. 

The Paris Library, by Janet Skeslien Charles.

The Starless Sea, by Erin Morgenstern.

The Strange Library, by Haruki Murakami.


From biographies about librarians (together with the place I began with this, the lifetime of the founding librarian of the Morgan Library, Belle da Costa Greene) to in depth seems to be on the growth of particular libraries to the historic and political context for library work, non-fiction books about libraries and librarians is simply as stunningly fascinating as fiction. This work additionally drives residence the sign significance of libraries in so many particular moments and locations and their function within the lives of people and communities.

The Archive Thief:  The Man Who Salvaged French Jewish History in the Wake of the Holocaust by Lisa Moses Leff.

The Bookseller of Florence:  The Story of the Manuscripts that Illuminated the Renaissance  by Ross King.

Burning the Books: A History of the Deliberate Destruction of Knowledge, by Richard Oveden.

The Card Catalog: Books, Cards and Literary Treasures by Peter Devereaux.

The Catalogue of Shipwrecked Books: Christopher Columbus, His Son, and the Quest to Build the World’s Greatest Library by Edward Wilson-Lee.

The Country House Library by Mark Purcell.

Down Cut Shin Creek:  The Pack Horse Librarians of Kentucky, by Kathi Appelt and Jeanne Schmitzer.

The Efficient, Inventive (Often Annoying) Melvil Dewey by Alexis O’Neill and Edwin Fotheringham.

Freedom Libraries:  the Untold Story of Libraries for African Americans in the South by Mike Selby.

An Illuminated Life:  Bell da Costa Greene’s Journey from Prejudice to Privilege by Heidi Ardizzone.

Irrepressible Reformer: A Biography of Melvil Dewey by Wayne A. Wiegand.

Library:  A Fragile History by Andrew Pettegree and Arthur du Weduwen.

Library: An Unquiet History by Matthew Battles.

The Library Book, by Susan Orlean.

Libraries in the Ancient World by Lionel Casson.

Palaces for the People: How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, and the Decline of Civic Life by Eric Klinenberg.

Presidential Libraries as Performance: Curating American Character from Herbert Hoover to George W. Bush by Jodi Kanter.

The Private Library:  The History of the Architecture and Furnishing of the Domestic Bookroom by Reid Byers.

Reading behind Bars: A True Story of Literature, Law, and Life as a Prison Librarian by Jill Grunenwald.

Remote Access: Small Public Libraries in Arkansas by Sabine Schmidt and Don Home.

Running the Books: The Adventures of an Accidental Prison Librarian by Avi Steinberg.

A Universal History of the Destruction of Book, From Ancient Sumer to Modern Iraq  by Fernando Baez. 


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