Getting Organized

I updated my WordPress theme last week and discovered that it has a lot of great new functions on the back-end — but that the update introduced a few blips on the front-end. That pesky “search” box is hanging out under “links” and “zotero” up top, and the second of my two sidebars doesn’t seem to want to be beside the first one. I hope we’ll get these issues fixed soon.

In other news: after six solid weeks of reading (and rereading tons of material I read a decade ago, while researching my book), and one solid week of playing around with various syllabus configurations, I’m happy to say that I think I’ve nearly finalized the first five weeks of my 15-week Libraries, Archives & Databases class. The weeks that remain will be dedicated to archives (3 weeks); databases (3 weeks); a design activity; a “flex week,” where we tie together loose ends and investigate students’ interests; and student presentations. I’ve got all the material for those final 10 classes; my problem is that I’ve got too much great stuff to choose from. Over the next few days I’ll be whittling away at my list of potential readings, screenings, and field trips.

I’ll post below what I’ve got so far, and within the week I hope to post the rest. Things are starting to take shape over at the new course website, too.

JANUARY 25: Introductions + Historicizing Information Overload


FEBRUARY 1: Ordering Media’s “Innumerable Species”
[will need to cut some of the following]

  • Michel Foucault, Preface to The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences (New York: Vintage Books [1970]1994): xv-xxiv.
  • Georges Perec, “Think/Classify” In Species of Spaces and Other Pieces (New York: Penguin, 1997): 188-205.
  • Roy Boyne, “Classification” Theory, Culture & Society 23:2-3 (2006): 21-30.
  • G. G. Chowdhury & Sundatta Chowdhury, “Organizing Information: What It Means,” “Ontology” & “Information Organization: Issues and Trends” In Organizing Information: From the Shelf to the Web (London: Facet Publishing, 2007): 1-15, 172-85, 213-24.
  • Clay Shirky, “Ontology is Overrated: Categories, Links, and Tags” (2005).
  • Excerpts from David Weinberger, Everything is Miscellaneous: The Power of the New Digital Disorder (New York: Holt, 2008).
  • Excerpts from Alex Wright, Glut: Mastering Information Through the Ages (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2008).



FEBRUARY 8: Libraries: From Ur to Madison Ave.
Field Trip: Morgan Library, 225 Madison Ave @ 36th Street – to be confirmed

  • “Library” Oxford English Dictionary (2010).
  • Matthew Battles, Excerpts from “Burning Alexandria, “ “The House of Wisdom” & “Books for All” In Library: An Unquiet History (New York: W.W. Norton 2004): 22-81, 117-155.
  • Skim Library Bureau, A Handbook of Library and Office Fittings and Supplies (Library Bureau, 1891).
  • Charles E. Pierce, Jr., “Private to Public: Opening Mr. Morgan’s Library to All” In Paul Spencer Byard, et. al., Eds., The Making of the Morgan: From Charles McKim to Renzo Piano (New York: W.W. Norton, 2008): 21-32 or Paul Spencer Byard, “Becoming the Morgan Library & Museum: A Historical Interpretation” In Paul Spencer Byard, et. al., Eds., The Making of the Morgan: From Charles McKim to Renzo Piano (New York: W.W. Norton, 2008): 109+.
  • The Morgan Library & Museum, “McKim Building Restoration.”
  • Holland Cotter, “Let There Be Light, and Elegance” New York Times (28 October 2010).

FEBRUARY 15: Idiosyncratic Libraries

  • Georges Perec, “Brief Notes on the Art and Craft of Sorting Books” In Species of Spaces and Other Pieces (New York: Penguin, 1997): 148-55.

The Warburg Library

  • The Warburg Institute Library and Classification Scheme.
  • Excerpts from Philippe-Alain Michaud, Aby Warburg and the Image in Motion, Trans. Sophie Hawkes (New York: Zone Books, 2007) or Dorothée Bauerle-Willert, “On the Warburg Humanities Library,” Trans. Mark Walz, In Susanne Bieri & Walther Fuchs, Eds., Building for Books: Traditions and Visions (Boston: Birkhäuser, 2001): 253-267 or Giorgio Agamben, “Aby Warburg and the Nameless Science” In Potentialities: Collected Essays in Philosophy, Ed. & Trans. Daniel Heller-Roazen (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2000).
  • Anthony Grafton & Jeffrey Hamburger, “Save the Warburg Library!New York Review of Books Blog (1 September 2010).

The Prelinger Library

  • Megan Shaw Prelinger, “To Build a LibraryBad Subjects 73 (April 2005).
  • Gideon Lewis-Kraus, “A World in Three Aisles” Harper’s (May 2007).


Saturday, February 19: Optional – but highly recommended! – field trip to the Reanimation Library

FEBRUARY 22: The Future Library
Screen In-Class: Holmes Films, The Librarian, 1947; Alain Resnais, Toute la Mémoire du Monde, 1956

  • Anthony Grafton, “Future ReadingThe New Yorker (5 November 2007).
  • Anna Klingmann, “Datascapes: Libraries as Information Landscapes,” In Susanne Bieri & Walther Fuchs, Eds., Building for Books: Traditions and Visions (Boston: Birkhäuser, 2001): 406-23.
  • Robert Darnton, “Can We Create a National Digital Library?The New York Review of Books (28 October 2010).
  • Geoff Manaugh, “The Atomized LibraryBLDGBLOG (11 February 2010).
  • Netherlands Architecture Institute & Netherlands Public Library Association, “Architecture of Knowledge


And here’s all the stuff I’ve cut from the assigned readings, but which I’ll probably try to incorporate into my presentation or the class discussion:

Week 2: Barbara Fisher, “The Dewey DilemmaLibrary Journal (1 October 2009); Elaine Svenonius, “Information Organization” + “Bibliographic Languages” In The Intellectual Foundation of Information Organization (Cambridge, MA: 2000): 1-14, 53-66; Couze Venn, “The Collection” Theory, Culture & Society 23:2-3 (2006): 35-40.

Week 3: Jan Assman, “Libraries in the Ancient World – with Special Reference to Ancient Egypt,” Trans. Robin Benson, In Susanne Bieri & Walther Fuchs, Eds., Building for Books: Traditions and Visions (Boston: Birkhäuser, 2001): 51-67; Thomas Augst & Kenneth Carpenter, Eds., Institutions of Reading: The Social Life of Libraries in the United States (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2007); Thomas Augst & Wayne E. Wiegand, Eds., Libraries as Agencies of Culture (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2002); Lionel Casson, Libraries in the Ancient World (New Haven: Yale 2001); Roger Chartier, “Libraries Without Walls” Representations 42 (Spring 1993); Alberto Manguel, “The Library as Space” [on Diderot’s Encyclopedie] The Library at Night (Toronto Knopf Canada, 2006): 81-89; Sean Cubitt, “Library” Theory, Culture & Society 23:2-3 (2006): 581-606; Henry Petroski, The Book on the Bookshelf (New York: Vintage, 1999); Daniel Heller-Roazen, “Tradition’s Destruction: On the Library of Alexandria” October 100 (Spring 2002): 133-153; Fred Lerner, The Story of Libraries: From the Invention of Writing to the Computer Age (New York: Continuum, 1999); Alberto Manguel, “The Library as Myth” [Tower of Babel & Library of Alexandria] The Library at Night (Toronto Knopf Canada, 2006): 6-34; Shannon Mattern, Morgan Library Notes; Konstantinos Sp. Staikos, The Great Libraries: From Antiquity to the Renaissance (New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll Press & The British Library, 2000).

Week 4: Alberto Manguel, “The Library as Order” The Library at Night (Toronto Knopf Canada, 2006): 36-63; Jennifer & Kevin McCoy, “Every Shot, Every Episode”; Chris Cobb’s “There Is Nothing Wrong In This Whole Wide World” color classification]; PRELINGER: Melanie Feinberg, “Classificationist as Author: The Case of the Prelinger Library” [unpublished manuscrip]
; Megan Shaw Prelinger, “On the Organization of the Prelinger Library”:; Marie L. Radford, Jessica Lingel & Gary R. Radford, “Alternative Libraries as Heterotopias: Challenging Conventional Constructs” Paper presented at Library Research Seminar V, University of Maryland, College Park, October 6-9, 2010; WARBURG: Benjamin H.D. Buchloh, “Gerhard Richter’s Atlas: The Anomic Archive” In Charles Merewether, Ed., The Archive: Documents in Contemporary Art (MIT Press 2006): 85-102; Alberto Manguel, “The Library as Mind” [Warburg Library] The Library at Night (Toronto Knopf Canada, 2006): 198-212; “Aby Warburg’s Mnemosyne Atlas,” Frieze 80 (January-Feburary 2004).

Week 5: Robert Darnton, “The Library in the New AgeThe New York Review of Books (12 June 2008) [history of writing, books; inherent instability of texts; unreliable news; editions of canonical texts; library as citadel of learning;  incompleteness of record created by Google Books; shore up the library]; Robert, Darnton, “The Library: Three Jeremiads” The New York Review of Books (23 November 2010): [cost of journals; “settlement” btw Google Books and academic library partners; proposal for National Digital Library]; Holmes Films, The Librarian, 1947

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