I finished reading Michael Twyman’s THE BRITISH LIBRARY GUIDE TO PRINTING: HISTORY AND TECHNIQUES, my first book-length read in this area. My intention with this post is to bring attention to this item and the series because M. Twyman’s writing is ridiculously easy to read and I assume the others are just as easy. I plan to invest time in the rest of these books over the next several months. Some comment will be made here as the history of printing is part of the history of libraries, book arts and rare books and this writer is committed to mention of rare books, special collections (of which rare books and book arts are sub-fields) and libraries. The University of Toronto Press has published several more books in this series. A few of them are: THE BRITISH LIBRARY GUIDE TO BOOKBINDING: HISTORY AND TECHNIQUES by P.J.M. Marks, THE BRITISH LIBRARY GUIDE TO MANUSCRIPT ILLUMINATION: HISTORY AND TECHNIQUES by Christopher De Hamel and THE BRITISH LIBRARY GUIDE TO WRITING AND SCRIPTS: HISTORY AND TECHNIQUES by Michelle P. Brown.
Looking forward to learning more in this area and blog readers should expect mention of these works in the future.
On Thursday, 12 April 2012, I was on the radio (Our Digital Future) at University of California – Irvine talking about librarianship and digital aspects in the field. Very fun. I got to talk about library school and bicycle riding (and the differences in the cycling scene between the DC Metro area and Chicago (where I used to live). But I also was given the opportunity to discuss projects underway at the Folger Shakespeare Library. Some of these projects are standard preservation and patron service projects. Great stuff indeed. But the Folger is also linking data to finding aids from their Luna Insight database, in which they keep their digital objects. Folger has a huge collection of digitized objects – full books, manuscripts, letters and all kinds of other rare materials. And they have the right team of professionals as they have staff who have been on committees deciding standards for a full range of rare materials. Folger is a highly professionalized place. And right now, they have an exhibit titled: Shakespeare’s Sisters: Voices of English and European Women Writers, 1500-1700 in the great Hall.
The best resources are here to stay and somehow manage to make their presence known again and again.
I have a tendency to believe linguistic diversity is also a sign of knowledge diversity and am very frustrated with attempts to globalize knowledge into one vast pot. I point to the impact of global mass communication content and technologies, the lack of allowing the “other” to truly be and the impact of the World’s most widely used library classification system, Library of Congress Subject Headings. I am not taking a stance against The Library of Congress. I live in America and make use of their diverse resources regularly. Also, their main building is a work of architectural art. No, I question standardization of “knowledge” at the expense of diversity and questions. It seems to me that if we classify all the world’s knowledge under one system (which is not the mission statement of the Library of Congress), then we have declared globally what everything in the world is “about.” This action is accomplished by all kinds of groups around the world who write indexes to be LC compatible. But if those local knowledge resources and populations have to use another “aboutness” structure other than their own, have they not committed a kind of murder of their own knowledge system? Believe me, this is a bit scary. I am not sure that we can separate “knowledge” from “questions.” I note this point because it seems to me to state up-front what something is about has already annihilated many potential questions – and thus knowledge types. How can this tendency sit well with ongoing questioning? Somehow, I feel this happens because we are afraid of uncertainty. This is not an overshadowing fear in this context, but a fear nonetheless. Surely it is different for different people. But why should we be afraid of conflicting and disagreeable classifications in information organization?