Studying About Libraries and Librarians

One of many constants in scholarly communication is the significance of understanding the total system of data manufacturing. Whether or not you’re a researcher, work in a library or in publishing, or in one of many myriad locations deploying the myriad expertise wanted to create and share data, it’s at all times useful to spend time reflecting on how your individual place and work pertains to others. 

One other fixed is that many people are massive readers. And for those who actually, actually love studying, no matter your skilled scenario on this enterprise, you may additionally actually love studying about studying – and libraries. And librarians. I’ve been studying lots about libraries for a very long time, and extra recently. However the class is large, and it appears like a very good time in a globally arduous 12 months to consider the pleasures of studying about one thing that may be a near-universal good (wonderful critiques of the shape and practices of amassing and extra however). A warning that this submit is a bit like these tweets that ask for references; assist me crowdsource, with this world crowd of scholarly comms people, a much bigger listing of nice books about libraries and librarians.

The main reading hall of the New York Public Library.

Books about libraries vary from tutorial analyses of the social and financial origins of library foundations (just like the Carnegie Libraries, that are situated predominantly within the U.S. but additionally within the U.Ok., Australia, and elsewhere) to accounts of librarians saving books from the violence of war, to the sheer visible pleasure of library architecture and interiors. E-book Riot simply ran a function on historical libraries in my new hometown of Providence, Rhode Island and maybe I’m solely a contact biased, however wow have we acquired some beauties (I’m keen on #5, and am headed for a go to to #6 tomorrow). The historical past of libraries and librarians is a tutorial subject of inquiry, a hobbyist’s pleasure, and for many people needs to be an expert necessity.

One of many first books folks began to suggest to me earlier this 12 months, however which I didn’t learn till certainly one of my board members advised it once more, is The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray. A novel concerning the nice e-book girl and the founding director and librarian of the Pierpont Morgan Library (now the Morgan Library and Museum) in New York Metropolis, Belle da Costa Greene, Benedict and Murray’s e-book explores Greene’s life as a Black girl residing and professionally triumphing as a white girl within the early twentieth century in a narrative about racism, amassing, and the beginning of one of many world’s nice libraries. It’s a fantastic learn, nevertheless it additionally made me hungry to be taught extra about Greene and concerning the world of ladies librarians in her period. I simply began a 2007 biography of Greene. The Morgan is planning an exhibit on Greene in 2024, and has been sponsoring some research on Greene’s work and life together with transcription and digitization and a digital platform with I Tatti for a few of her correspondence.

Over on 5 Books Richard Ovenden, the twenty fifth librarian of Oxford College’s Bodleian Library, talked about his position and the historic establishment he leads. He additionally recommended five books about libraries; it’s price trying out his choice. Amongst them I concur concerning the thrill and terror of Susan Orlean’s The Library Book concerning the hearth on the Los Angeles Public Library in 1986. It’s a visceral e-book, bringing you near the nearly-indescribable warmth of the hearth itself and into the soggy post-fire mess of 1000’s upon 1000’s of volumes, together with the staffing and infrastructure that created the Library after which needed to be rebuilt. I’ve thought recently that although I simply purchased Ovenden’s personal lauded work, Burning the Books: A History of the Deliberate Destruction of Knowledge, a 12 months in the past, it’s price a critical re-read in gentle of the efforts to ban the 1619 Challenge and related (and even vaguely associated) work.

I’d wish to learn extra about librarians and their progressive practices. I learn the novel The Paris Library, however am ready to discover a good historical past of the place and its folks. As a historian working a library, I’m maybe naturally drawn to histories of those nice establishments and the individuals who have constructed them; I’ve definitely been scouring the institutional archives and histories of the John Carter Brown Library, and utilizing the collections at Brown College’s Hay Library to be taught extra about a few of the early librarians. However I’d nonetheless like extra context. I’m questioning, for instance, why I can’t discover a good e-book about Henriette Davidson Avram, the pc scientist who developed the MARC format on the Library of Congress. I’m additionally going to select up over the break Peter Devereaux’s The Card Catalog: Books, Cards and Literary Treasures. In a blog interview for the LOC, he described the innovation of card cataloging so elegantly, and in addition reminded that one impetus for a digital catalogue got here from the sheer weight of the factor. “By the Fifties, as the principle card catalog on the Library surged to greater than 9 million playing cards in 10,500 trays, employees grew more and more involved.”

Libraries and librarians the world over are complicated, numerous, and distinctive — and along with filling important roles for folks and societies who rely upon their crucial operate of offering info and preserving data, they make for fascinating studying. I’m based mostly within the U.S., and have learn lots about U.S. libraries. However having learn a few tutorial articles about libraries in India, I’d wish to learn a basic viewers e-book about each personal libraries and public library techniques there. Having watched with horror because the information reported the loss to fireplace of particular collections on the College of Cape City earlier this 12 months, I’d wish to find out about this explicit library but additionally different college libraries in Africa. The universe of tales and histories of libraries and librarians is huge. Share a few of your favorites within the feedback?

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