Monday, March 21, 2011

Libraries and The Book

Hi All, 
Thought I would write up a little book related ramble for you. I went to a gallery discussion/talk thing yesterday at Cubitt Gallery, London, which was a discussion about the book and the library as part of a series of events organised by the artist Ruth Beale. Was really interesting as there was someone from Durham Uni who talked us through a brief history of libraries in the UK from monastic libraries to now. There was also a man from the Institute for the Future of the Book who was talking about how in this digital age we now have 'absolute access' and yet we still crave a space that we can go to and engage with other people, this used to be and still is the library space, providing a sense of community. He has created a new project called the Unlibrary which is a space much like a library but completely without books; a space where you can go with your digital gadget(s) to work and feel an atmosphere not unlike a library where you can also meet others, to be honest I don't really understand why he thinks that we need a separate space to that of a normal public library in order to do those things... 
He was also saying that a book has always been and still is an experience in your head; the paper, the kindle, the laptop is "just a platform". This intrigued me because as far as I am concerned the platform is just as important as the experience, whether its an art book or just a novel. The space is also important as he was saying before, so it's funny that he seems to agree with one thing and not the other. Any of your thoughts on this would be welcome.
The Institute for the Future of the Book is actually a very interesting website that seem to be doing some very interesting things; worth a browse if you have time. 
Here is the blurb about the discussion/talk if you are interested in names etc... 
Saturday 19 March, 2.30 pm
Speakers: Anne Gallacher (Chair), independent arts consultant, specialist in arts education and community engagement, former Director of Education at Birmingham Royal Ballet; Professor Richard Gameson, Department of History, Durham University, specialist on the history of the book from antiquity to the Renaissance; Chris Meade, co-Director of the Institute for the Future of the Book and co-founder of The Unlibrary (a library for the digital age) at Hornsey Library; Maggie Roche, Senior Librarian, Children and Young People, former Chair Youth Libraries Group, London.
This discussion will look at the importance of libraries and archives, their historical origins and potential future development. How has the form of written information and public access to it developed historically? What is it we value about libraries as public spaces and are we attached to them in their current form? What can the digital library offer and what might the library of the future look like? Who manages and has access to the repositories of knowledge and information in our society?
Hope this is of interest to some of you. 
Abigail 

3 comments:

ronnie said...

mmmm I would have liked to have been at this one....

I've noticed (in my researching journeys) about the 'institute for the future of the book' and if:book.... but to be honest I have found the direction of their conversation not absolutely gripping..... perhaps it's because, like you,(and unlike Mr Unlibrary), I find the PLATFORM as interesting (or maybe even MOREso) as the EXPERIENCE... indeed I don't think the two can be easily separated --- or at least we should acknowledge that the experience is mediated by the platform... (and I don't get that from the snippet you've shared here)....

and as a continuation of the discussion I'd ask - hey - why is it that we need a structure in which to gather? in many ways the way that we can now connect is post-architectural.... look - here I am thousands of miles/kilometres from this discussion, but I am present in the subsequent discourse.... this is the marvelous nature of the interweb is it not? our thoughts are gathered together in the interwebby structure-less ether..... why invest in buildings?

ahhhh but then I suppose folk might again ask - but why worry about a book's platform .... the experience is in your head....

and around we we go like kids on a carousel...

(thanks for sharing your thoughts... I love to think about things like this... even if when I type out my brain activity it seems like drivel!)

Carrie said...

Call me a Luddite if you want, but I personally like to turn pages in my books. I find the whole e-book thing leaves me cold. As for libraries, I don't enjoy them as much as I used to. I liked the quiet, hushed places that libraries used to be with rack upon rack of books. Most libraries now are too open plan and full of computers now.

Abigail Thomas said...

ronnie; i also tend to think that what comes out my head is drivel but I can safely say that your comment is as eloquent as can be! agree with the carousel analogy and with the whole platform thing.

carrie; me too; although seeing as i dont have an ebook reader i cannot say i wouldnt like it, just not tried it!