Professor Alistair Black's research on the design of post-war British public libraries has received an Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities (IPRH) Prize for Research in the Humanities. Black's entry, "The Long Journey to Libraries of Light," was selected as the winner of an Honorable Mention for best faculty research.
The entry was an extract from Chapter 2 of Black's new book, Libraries of Light: British Public Library Design in the Long 1960s, which is a sequel to his earlier work on pre-1939 public library design, Books, Buildings and Social Engineering (2009). In his latest book, Black examines how the design of public libraries in Britain in the long 1960s (defined as c. 1955 to c. 1975) was characterized by the harnessing of "light." He discusses how this word not only describes the materiality of new sixties libraries ─ with their open-plan, decluttered, light-drenched interiors ─ but also serves as a metaphor for the public library's role at the time as a beacon of social egalitarianism and cultural universalism.
Established at the University of Illinois in 1997, the IPRH promotes interdisciplinary study in the humanities, arts, and social sciences. The 2016-17 IPRH Prizes for Research in the Humanities will be formally announced at a ceremony and reception on May 1 at the IPRH in the Levis Faculty Center.
Black has been a full professor at the iSchool since 2009 and was named an iSchool Centennial Scholar for 2014-2015. His current research interests include information-management practices in the Intelligence Branch of Britain's Victorian War Office and the design of the new British Library in the context of the "two cultures" debate in post-war Britain.