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RELATED RESEARCH PROJECTS

02-Cabinet-Catalogue-Mak
University of Illinois Research Board

For over two millennia, librarians have played a critical role in the production and transmission of knowledge. They have helped to collect, catalogue, and curate a vast range of materials that constitute much of our cultural heritagefrom epic poetry on papyrus scrolls to PDFs of scholarly articles. This project interrogates these practices by building a librarian's cabinet of curiosity, and populating it with explicit examples of the mundane activities that occur in and around the library.

childrecomicsprint
University of Illinois Research Board

This project expands Tilley’s investigation of comics from the perspective of readers, a much-neglected group in both contemporary and historical research. Comics readership among young people peaked in the mid-twentieth century with levels reaching near 100%, yet there has been little scholarly investigation of this phenomenon. Funding for this project will enable archival research trips and hourly research support to complete data collection necessary for a single-author monograph that will provide a coherent examination of the social and cultural role of comics in United States’s children’s print culture throughout the twentieth century.

mechanicalliteracies

This project examines writers who represent education as an embodied experience, with learning and literacy grounded in what they called “object learning” or “the education of things.” Denouncing rote-learning in favor of an induction method, object lessons promised to coordinate the development of body and mind by using the pupil’s senses as a catalyst for higher cognitive thought. Children place themselves above the elements composing their environment, which they control through what Hoiem calls “mechanical literacy”—that is, by learning the dependable laws governing how things are sensed, manipulated, created, purchased, manufactured, and exchanged. The project mobilizes a uniquely diverse archive of material and print cultures—pedagogical treatises, radical newspapers, automaton...

smiles_0

The public library system in Britain today is reeling under the impact of neo-liberalist attitudes to the role of the state in society. This contrasts starkly with attitudes to public libraries when they were first proposed and established in the middle decades of the nineteenth century. At this time, economic liberals argued in favour of state involvement in the provision of libraries to compensate for the patchy and 'exclusive' provision that had been built up voluntarily over the centuries. In this context, an examination is made of the advocacy of liberals like Samuel Smiles, the leading publicist of self-help, and James Silk Buckingham, publisher, adventurer and reformer. 

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Opened in 1997, the new British Library at St. Pancras, London was designed as a building of two main volumes, one devoted to the arts and humanities, the other to science, technology and business. This dichotomy echoed the debate set in motion in 1959 by the publication of C.P. Snow's The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution. The project asked in which ways this debate fed through into Colin St. John Wilson's iconic design for the new British Library, the plan for which was more than a generation in the making. 

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Intelligence has always been an aspect of organized warfare. It was not until the 1870s, however, that the British Army effectively recognised this formally by establishing a dedicated division named the "Intelligence Branch," to be supported by libraries spread across a number of locations. The project explores the ways in which these services developed before the First World War and, specifically, what information and library management techniques they employed?

fossil

One of the enduring attractions of books is their ability to stand witness to their own presence through time and space. A history of social interaction is marked on the pages of a book; a folded corner, a stain from a careless reader's cup of coffee, and a thoughtful comment in the margin accrue and transmit something of where the book has been, with whom, and under what circumstances. Characterized by Walter Benjamin as the particular historical testimony that adheres to a unique body, the auratic quality of the singular object must now be reconciled with digital entities that can be concurrently embodied in different material configurations. Rather than summoning a Benjaminian aura that is attached to a specific materiality, then, the performance of the digital entices the reader in...

mak-pollack-haraway_is_our_friend

This project uses the friendship bracelet as a way to "re-weave" the academic canon. Friendship bracelets are handmade macramé bracelets of embroidery thread, intended to be worn as a sign of lasting friendship. In this collaboration with Julia Pollack (MS '12), bracelets have been woven with bibliographical references to important work of women in the field of knowledge-production.

The bracelets, with their citations in the author-date format of the Chicago Manual of Style, index scholarship by women across the disciplines about the making of knowledge, as well as the invisible practice of librarianship that is often undertaken by women. Weaving bibliographical references into friendship bracelets offers a novel way to foreground and consider the labor that underpins knowledge...

IN THE NEWS

Jun. 22, 2016
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Doctoral student Steve Witt (MS '95) is the recipient of the 2016 Donald G. Davis Article Award given by the Library History Round Table of the American Library Association (ALA). The award will be presented on June 26 at the 2016 ALA Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida, at the Library History Round Table Research Forum.

The award is given every second year and recognizes the best article written in English in the field of United States and Canadian library history, including the history of libraries, librarianship, and book culture. Witt’s winning article, “...

Jun. 7, 2016

Assistant Professor Elizabeth Hoiem and Associate Professor Carol Tilley will speak at the 2016 Children’s Literature Association Conference, to be held June 9-11 at The Ohio State University. The theme of the conference is “Animation,” which reflects developments in aesthetic creation and critical analysis of children’s and young adult literature.

Hoiem will chair a session titled, “The ABCs of Pedagogy: Visual Culture and Literacy,” on June 11, during which she will present her paper, “Reading objects, Reading books: The Mechanical Literacies of Industrial Britain.”

My paper argues that perceptions of early literacy and children’s books shifted during Britain’s first industrial revolution (1780-1850), as educators conceptualized learning and reading in materialist terms….Called “object learning” or “the education of things,” these pedagogical practices used a child’s physical awareness of her body and...

Jun. 2, 2016

In their recent article, “The Value Proposition of the Corporate Library, Past and Present,” Professor Alistair Black and doctoral student Henry Gabb discuss findings from their survey of modern corporate librarians.

Their investigation looks at changes in valuation of the corporate library over the past one hundred years, using a survey conducted in 1916 as a benchmark.

Abstract: Corporate libraries of the kind we would recognize today began to appear around the turn of the twentieth century. They were a response to a rapidly changing corporate and commercial environment, acting as adjuncts to both the rise of systematic industrial research and the office management revolution that accompanied the implementation of scientific management.

A survey of American corporate libraries in 1916 by the British manufacturer Rowntree and Company provides a snapshot of their operations and perceived value. The survey was repeated with a selection of today’s corporate...

Mar. 18, 2016

Professor Alistair Black addressed a gathering of historians in the Great Hall of historic Lambeth Palace in London on March 1. The event was held in celebration of the tenth anniversary of the publication of Cambridge History of Libraries in Britain and Ireland (CHLBI), a three-volume work published by Cambridge University Press. Black co-edited the third volume, covering the years 1850-2000.

The event was organized by the Library and Information History Group of the UK’s Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP), and many of the contributors to CHLBI were in attendance. A feature of the proceedings was the presentation of a festschrift, co-edited by Black, to Peter Hoare, the CHLBI’s general editor and a leading figure in library history in the UK over the last half-century. The festschrift forms a double issue (Parts 1 & 2,...

Feb. 26, 2016
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A new book by alumnus David Hunter (PhD '89), The Lives of George Frideric Handel, is part biography and part genre case study. The famous composer’s life has been documented in numerous biographies, which Hunter scrutinized to differentiate history from interpretation. His findings led to this new work, which was published recently by Boydell Press.

From the publisher’s description: To evaluate the familiar, even over-familiar, story of Handel's life could be seen as a quixotic endeavour. How can there be anything new to say? This book seeks to distinguish fact from fiction, not only to produce a new biography but also to explore the concepts of biography and dissemination by using Handel's life and lives as a case study. By...

Feb. 25, 2016

Associate Professor Bonnie Mak will travel to the United Arab Emirates in March to take part in a workshop at New York University’s Abu Dhabi Institute. “Charisma of the Book: Global Perspectives for the 21st Century,” will be held March 12-14.

Mak will be among twenty-five invited scholars and book artists from around the world who will gather together to engage in conversations on “the history and future of the book, exploring comparative and interdisciplinary interpretations and applications of the concept of charisma.” The group will address questions such as, “How might the concept of charisma illuminate the materialization—and marginalization—of the book's cultural status and social power in the digital age? What does a transcultural history of the physical artifact of the book reveal about the social interfaces and media platforms...

Feb. 19, 2016

Library Trends, GSLIS’s scholarly publication edited by Professor Alistair Black, issued a two-part special issue in 2014-2015 commemorating the twenty-fifth anniversary of the fall of the Iron Curtain. “Libraries in a Post-Communist World: A Quarter of a Century of Development in Central and Eastern Europe and Russia,” was published as issues two and four of Volume 63 and guest edited by Hermina G.B. Anghelescu, associate professor in the School of Library and Information Science at Wayne State University and former chair of the Library History Special Interest Group of the International Federation of Library Associations.

The Johns Hopkins University Press, which publishes Library Trends for GSLIS, has produced a two-part podcast highlighting the special issue. In part one, Anghelescu discusses the challenges of locating and...

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