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Book Cover
Author Collins, Samuel Gerald.

Title Library of walls : the Library of Congress and the contradictions of information society / by Samuel Gerald Collins
Published Duluth, Minn. : Litwin Books, 2009
Online access available from:
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Description 1 online resource (xi, 201 pages)
Contents Introduction : if on a winter's night a reader -- Anthropology and the imperial archive -- From knowledge machines to information scapes : tracing the library's places and non-places -- Ghosts in the information machine -- "Getting the champagne out of the bottle and into the six-pack : laying the foundations for the virtual library and the LC -- Corporeal work at the virtual library : research and scholarship for a new age -- Conclusion : the American pastoral revisited
Summary In Library of Walls, Samuel Collins engages the heterogeneities of information society at the Library of Congress through ethnographic fieldwork, suggesting that information society is best understood at the locus of conflicting modalities imbricating text, space, work and life. During the 1990's, the Library of Congress was beset with challenges to its traditional roles in cataloging and scholarship while at the same time re-inventing itself as a library without walls. The order of books was threatened on several fronts: in the explosive growth of accessions, in the challenges of online materials and different container types, and in fundamental disagreements about the role of the Library vis-a-vis the nation. But rather than analyze these as separate etiologies, Collins sees them as the expression of an inherently Janus-faced information society that limits information and forecloses debate even as it multiplies avenues of access. Collins considers multiple sites at the Library - its spaces, its artifacts and organization-as contested sites where varied actors negotiate information, knowledge and nation amidst an institution whose own shifting priorities synecdochally mirror the ambiguities and unease of contemporary society. What Collins's research suggests is that the technologies of reading (books, catalogs, web pages) must be understood in the context of their contradictory production, an ultimately salutary intervention in an era where, surrounded by our variously networked techno-fetishes, it is difficult to see information society for what it is - a chimera of shifting configurations of technology, social life and cultural meaning. However many books are digitized and however accessible information becomes in the digital age, Collins urges us to examine the powerful exclusions concealed in the umbra of these technological revolutions
Bibliography Includes bibliographical references (pages 155-195) and index
Notes Print version record
Subject Library of Congress -- Information technology.
Library of Congress.
Library of Congress. National Digital Library Program.
Digital libraries -- United States.
Information society -- United States.
National libraries -- United States.
Form Electronic book
ISBN 1936117371 (electronic bk.)
9781936117376 (electronic bk.)
(alk. paper)