Saturday, January 1, 2011

Library Preservation 2

I am re-entering the blogging world with this, Library Preservation 2. I wrote the earlier blog, Library Preservation, for a few years, but have been on blogging hiatus for a couple years.

My previous blog was rather sprawling in subject matter, prone to whimsical asides, and intended, somewhat, as a public service. My vision for this new edition, however, is more specific. I have been hovering around some larger library-preservationish topics for the last while and I think I’m ready to more deeply explore these topics.

For me, the best way to visualize what I’m hoping to do with this blog, is to explore the space of an ellipse. The two points of this ellipse are: library preservation theory; and, libraries’ place in cultural heritage preservation.

A bit of explanation about these concepts.

“Library preservation theory.”
The library world is good at the technical and administrative aspects of preservation. (Gary Frost once identified the two branches or approaches of library preservation as the AIC/UT Austin scientific/art conservation branch, and the ALA administrative branch.) What I find lacking in much of the preservation literature, however, is much discussion of the theoretical, conceptual, philosophical foundation which provides the intellectual framework to justify current preservation practices. To me, this means asking questions like, what do libraries think they are doing when they attempt to “preserve” things, what are we to preserve, and what is our ideology of preservation? This isn’t to suggest that this foundation isn’t there, it is there, but I haven’t come across much literature asking these questions. (We have conservation scientists and preservation administrators, but I think we have a lack of preservation philosophers, priests, and shamans.)

“Libraries’ place in cultural heritage preservation.”
This second point on my ellipse of investigation arises out of my attempt to ponder my first point. I’ve been lead to look more and more to conservation literature coming out of the museum/cultural heritage institution world. I find people in this world writing some very interesting literature asking the questions I listed above. And so, I’m curious to ponder how conservation discussion coming out of the museum/artifact/historic preservation world might inform a similar kind of discussion in the library world. What is the place of libraries in the larger cultural heritage world. To help me do this, I also need a better grasp of the function and place of libraries in the larger world.

My primary means of exploring the space of this ellipse of interest is by reading and responding. I’ve a growing bibliography of titles which I hope will stimulate ideas. (The bibliography will be posted shortly - and I’d gladly receive reading suggestions.) It is my intention to use this blog to “publicly” interact with these readings - and whatever else might catch my attention.

I’m doing this project publicly with some apprehension. Like nearly every one that writes a blog I’d be thrilled if people become engaged with what I write, but I’m not anticipating many people will find much in these posts that speaks to them. I will attempt to resist the personal compulsion to keep the imaginary masses happy with frequent insightful and witty posts, but because I am who I am, I‘m sure I’ll let in the occasional goofy video or irrelevant aside. 

(I realize that blogs are like so last-decade as a means of communication. For me, that’s part of their charm.)

1 comment:

  1. Hi Kevin,

    Great to see you back in the blogosphere! And thanks for linking to my blog in your biblio, you're too kind.

    I was checking through the other listing, and I hadn't before seen the book "The library as place: history, community, and culture" it looks fascinating, thanks for the reference.

    I look forward to following, and interacting with, your new blog.