The Library Beyond the Bookby Jeffrey T. Schnapp, Matthew Battles
With textbook readers and digital downloads proliferating, it is easy to imagine a time when printed books will vanish. Such forecasts miss the mark, argue Jeffrey Schnapp and Matthew Battles. Future bookshelves will not be wholly virtual, and libraries will thrivealthough in a variety of new social, cultural, and architectural forms. Schnapp and Battles
With textbook readers and digital downloads proliferating, it is easy to imagine a time when printed books will vanish. Such forecasts miss the mark, argue Jeffrey Schnapp and Matthew Battles. Future bookshelves will not be wholly virtual, and libraries will thrivealthough in a variety of new social, cultural, and architectural forms. Schnapp and Battles combine deep study of the library’s history with a record of institutional and technical innovation at metaLAB, a research group at the forefront of the digital humanities. They gather these currents in The Library Beyond the Book, exploring what libraries have been in the past to speculate on what they will become: hybrid places that intermingle books and ebooks, analog and digital formats, paper and pixels.
Libraries have always been mix-and-match spaces, and remix is their most plausible future scenario. Speculative and provocative, The Library Beyond the Book explains book culture for a world where the physical and the virtual blend with ever increasing intimacy.
While iPad-bearing soothsayers banish print books to dustbins, coauthors Schnapp and Battles, both insightful provocateurs from Harvard University, envision dynamic and fluid architectural spaces warehousing paper as well as pixels. In a spirit of refreshing experimentation, they ask: What flexible qualities from the past can accommodate tomorrow's information consumers and, when combined, produce innovative configurations for a digital world? These structures incorporate basic components used in libraries across centuries, such as bookshelves, card catalogs, librarians, and reference desks. Building upon this framework, the authors imagine six plausible scenarios for serving tomorrow's diverse information consumers, situating libraries as everything from study shelters to civic institutions functioning as mobile libraries, reading rooms promoting social change, and/or event-driven knowledge centers. VERDICT Schnapp and Battles offer plausible configurations of both book and library in the age of the Internet of Everything. Their imaginative essays demonstrate the rigorous research and design thinking customary within university settings. The mainstream reading public may have difficulty conceptualizing aspects of their heady discussion, making the title best for a professional audience.—Jerry P. Miller. Cambridge, MA
Meet the Author
Jeffrey T. Schnapp is the faculty director of metaLAB at Harvard University and faculty co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society.
Matthew Battles is Associate Director of metaLAB at Harvard University.
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