How Do We Library That?

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Context

Libraries are complex social infrastructures. It's difficult to describe them without using the plural "libraries", or singular "a library/the library"; as if they were all the same. Universalisms won't help in understanding what is particular about libraries and collections of texts, or their value to their readers.

Public libraries are more than just access points to knowledge. They are social sites where readers cross over while reading together, annotating, organising and structuring. These places are slowly fading away, threatened by a business logic that sees them as just containers for files and books. But as public libraries are replaced by self-service software and paywalls, shadow and fugitive libraries appear in their wake, founded upon values of local community, cultural literacy and open access.

What might be called a library, a book or a text has radically changed in the post-digital age. A text could be editorial (a sequence), technical (a process), social (a framework). A book could be bound at the spine, or an electronic file gathered together with digital binding. A library could be an accumulated stack of printed books, a modular collection of software packages, a method of distributing e-books, a writing machine, and so on, and so on.

Special Issue 19

In this Special Issue, we will start by considering the word "library" as a verb; actions that sustains the production, collection and distribution of texts. We will question indexical attitudes that lean towards universalisms and search for proposals for how we "library" our particular collection.

How are texts made new? How to make a collection understandable to others? What are the access points to the collection, and where do readers and writers cross paths?

Rather than looking only at what a library stores, we will also think about what it produces. We will begin at the level of text, experimenting with personal and collective methods of recording and distributing individual notes and thoughts, alongside their organisation into collections. We will look into library spaces, opening boxes and opening texts, finding moments of surprise and seeds of inspiration that deserve to be shared and linked. We will explore librarying as sets of actions that produce; writing machines, networks of accumulated practices and distribution methods, sites of cultural literacy and learning, social spaces of text.

Guest Editor

Simon Browne is an artist, designer, researcher and self-proclaimed "contingent librarian"; convenient shorthand for the caretaking of an ever-expanding list of collective actions. He is the initiator of the bootleg library, a digital/physical/social collection of texts. His work engages with the social dimension of publishing, free software and infrastructure that supports interpersonal knowledge-sharing networks. Simon lives and works in Rotterdam, where he is active as a member of Varia.

Schedule

One: Tasks of the Contingent Librarian

Summary: Contingent librarianship - opening up a set of actions

Monday, September 19th, 2022

11:00-17:30 Introduction to the Special Issue with Simon in the Aquarium

Pad: https://pad.xpub.nl/p/SP19_22-09-19

To introduce ourselves we will use cards from Tasks of the Contingent Librarian:

  • 52 cards on the table (e.g. bootlegging, indexing, scanning, reading, technologising the word, et cetera)
  • Choose 3 cards that match your curiosities and interests
  • Exchange a card with someone, describing how you relate to the task
  • Pass on the card you received to a new person, describe the relationship you heard about
  • Take notes on what you hear, paying attention to the note-taking method and interface (e.g. pen/paper, laptop) you choose

Assignment for next week:

Tuesday, September 20th, 2022

11:00-17:30 Prototyping with Manetta & Joseph

Pad: https://pad.xpub.nl/p/SI19-prototyping-1

Install ourselves into XPUB, sandboxes, servers, web servers, Hello World!

Booklet: File:Install-myself-in-the-sandbox.pdf

Wednesday September 21st, 2022

11:00-17:00 Introduction to Reading, Writing and Research Methodologies with Steve

Le Guin, acacia seeds and un-naming.

Pad: https://pad.xpub.nl/p/LeGuinAcaciaSeeds

NotesWedSeshOne

Two: Print Screen

Summary: Plain text & annotation, from markup to markdown

Monday, September 26th, 2022

With Simon in the Aquarium, Print & Publication Station & XML

Pad: https://pad.xpub.nl/p/SP19_22-09-26

Assignment for next week: Edit your vosk-transcribed text to make it legible to an uninitiated reader.

Pad: https://pad.xpub.nl/p/SP19_Print_Screen_transcriptions

Tuesday, September 27th, 2022

11:00-17:30 Prototyping with Manetta & Joseph

the internet, the web, mark up that text

Pad: https://pad.xpub.nl/p/SI19-prototyping-2

Three: Text, TBC

Summary: Dimensions of text - editorial, technical, social

With Simon in the Aquarium, Kunstkelder and Research Station (introduced by Wilma Knol)

Monday, October 3rd, 2022

Pad: https://pad.xpub.nl/p/SP19_22-10-03

Assignment for next week:

We use a short section of the audio recording of Wilma (we liked the part where she describes the box with the ornamental garden inside, and also the part when she remembered the two students/staff who borrowed the Philip Guston book).

In groups of two people, make the recording legible, as text. How you choose to do this is up to you and your partner, but think about how to make it legible to each other. What happens when you begin to edit and organise the text, how does it fit into a bigger system that may include other texts?

You can use any method or media you like (digital text, printed matter, pen and paper also ok). Make a minimum of 1, maximum of 5 "cards" from the text, and bring them to Varia next week.

Tuesday, October 4th, 2022

11:00-17:30 Prototyping with Manetta & Joseph

Pad: https://pad.xpub.nl/p/SI19-prototyping-3

Wednesday October 5th, 2022

11:00-17:30 Reading, Writing and Research Methodologies with Steve

Pad:https://pad.xpub.nl/p/Methods5Oct22

Four: Scribes Getting Personal ☞

Summary: different ways to indicate/index/point to things

Monday, October 10th, 2022

A day at the Varia library (Gouwstraat 3, Rotterdam) with Simon

Pad: https://pad.xpub.nl/p/SP19_22-10-10

Assignment for next week:

Devise a proof of concept for your "HTML gardening". Next week we meet again at Varia to materialise the outcomes.

Tuesday, October 11th, 2022

11:00-17:30 Prototyping with Manetta & Joseph

Pad: https://pad.xpub.nl/p/SI19-prototyping-4

Five: Gardening the Library

Summary: Gardening as approach

Monday, October 17th, 2022

Another day in the Varia library (Gouwstraat 3), with Simon

Pad: https://pad.xpub.nl/p/SP19_22-10-17

Tuesday, October 18th, 2022

11:00-17:30 Prototyping with Manetta & Joseph

Python, House of dust, generating cards in HTML, git

Pad: https://pad.xpub.nl/p/SI19-prototyping-5

Wednesday October 19th, 2022

11:00-17:30 Reading, Writing and Research Methodologies with Steve

Pad: https://pad.xpub.nl/p/Methods19Oct22

Main assignment

It was really wonderful to see you produce a set of printed cards this week. Over the break, see how they work in a game. What happens when you use the cards this way? Can the system you are prototyping be extended, or augmented? How many cards do you need in a full set? Does anything change when the game takes place somewhere else?

🍁🍁🍁

Monday 24th October to Friday 28th October, 2022

Autumn Vacation

Readings:

Six: Paper Machines

Summary: Analog interfaces for digital collections

Monday, October 31st, 2022

Pad: https://pad.xpub.nl/p/SP19_22-10-31

Assignment for next week: Use the method you have developed to apply to the text you are writing to establish the rules of the game. The aim is to have a set of cards that we can take with us to the Social Practice Library on Monday, November 7th. We can use them to find out more about the particular collection that is being "libraried" there. More about Jeanne here: https://www.jeanneworks.net/

Readings for next week: Choose one of the following texts from last week to read. Be ready to discuss it on Monday, after our visit to the Social Practice Library. These readings are:

  1. Lisa Gitelman, 'Near Print and Beyond Paper Knowing by *.pdf', (pp 111-135), from Paper Knowledge: Toward a Media History of Documents: https://hub.xpub.nl/bootleglibrary/read/280/pdf#page=126
  2. Daniel Rosenberg, 'An Archive of Words', (pp 271-305) from Science in the Archives: Pasts, Presents, Futures: https://hub.xpub.nl/bootleglibrary/read/732/pdf#page=280

Tuesday, November 1st, 2022

11:00-15:30 Prototyping with Manetta & Joseph

Pad: https://pad.xpub.nl/p/SI19-prototyping-6

15:30-17:30 SI19 Midpoint Meeting

Pad: https://pad.xpub.nl/p/SI19-midpoint-meeting

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2022

Gardening the XML

Pad: https://pad.xpub.nl/p/SI19-20221102

Seven: A Textile, A Framework

Summary: Weaving texts together

At the Social Practice Library, Sint Andriesstraat 194

Monday, November 7th, 2022

Pad: https://pad.xpub.nl/p/SP19_22-11-07

Tuesday, November 8th, 2022

11:00-17:30 Prototyping with Manetta & Joseph

Pad: https://pad.xpub.nl/p/SI19-prototyping-7

Wednesday November 9th, 2022

11:00-17:30 Reading, Writing and Research Methodologies with Steve

Pad: https://pad.xpub.nl/p/SI19-20221109

Eight: Permutations

Summary: Generating rules for generating rules

Monday, November 14th, 2022

Pad: https://pad.xpub.nl/p/SP19_22-11-14

Tuesday, November 15th, 2022

11:00-16:00 Prototyping with Manetta & Joseph

Pad: https://pad.xpub.nl/p/SI19-prototyping-8

16:00-17:30 Midpoint meeting

Pad: https://pad.xpub.nl/p/SI19-midpoint-meeting

Nine: Materialising the Metaphor

Summary: Why does a garden matter?

Monday, November 21st, 2022

Pad: https://pad.xpub.nl/p/SP19_22-11-21

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2022

11:00-17:30 Prototyping with Manetta & Joseph

Pad: https://pad.xpub.nl/p/SI19-prototyping-9

Wednesday November 23rd, 2022

11:00-17:30 Reading, Writing and Research Methodologies with Steve

Pad:https://pad.xpub.nl/p/SI19(Steve)2309

Ten: Title Goes Here

Summary: A chance to cut is a chance to cure

Monday, November 28th, 2022

Pad: https://pad.xpub.nl/p/SP19_22-11-28

Tuesday, November 29th, 2022

11:00-17:30 Prototyping with Manetta & Joseph

Pad: https://pad.xpub.nl/p/SI19-prototyping-10

Eleven: A Release

Summary: Assembling the pieces, preparing for harvest

Monday, December 5th, 2022

Pad: https://pad.xpub.nl/p/SP19_22-12-05

Tuesday, December 6th, 2022

11:00-17:30 Prototyping with Manetta & Joseph

Pad:

Bibliography

Texts

Week Title Contributors Link
1: Tasks of the Contingent Librarian Tasks of the Contingent Librarian Simon Browne User:Simon/Tasks_of_the_Contingent_Librarian_cards
'She Unnames Them' Ursula K Leguin https://pad.xpub.nl/p/LeGuinAcaciaSeeds
The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction Ursula K Leguin https://hub.xpub.nl/bootleglibrary/book/68
2: Print Screen 'Introduction: Receiving Three Mochilas in Colombia, Carrier Bags for Staying with the Trouble', The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction Donna Haraway https://hub.xpub.nl/bootleglibrary/read/778/pdf#page=14
'The Fridge, Books', Index Cards Moyra Davey https://hub.xpub.nl/bootleglibrary/book/767
'In Praise of the Cross-reference" (pp 63-65), Paper Machines: About Cards & Catalogs, 1548-1929 Markus Krajewski https://hub.xpub.nl/bootleglibrary/read/557/pdf#page=70
'On the Gradual Manufacturing of Thoughts in Storage' (pp 65-68), Paper Machines: About Cards & Catalogs, 1548-1929 Markus Krajewski https://hub.xpub.nl/bootleglibrary/read/557/pdf#page=72
Communicating with slip boxes: An Empirical Account Niklas Luhmann https://luhmann.surge.sh/communicating-with-slip-boxes
Fugitive Libraries Shannon Mattern https://placesjournal.org/article/fugitive-libraries/
3: Text, TBC 'The General Antagonism: An Interview With Stevphen Shukaitis' (pp 103-110), The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning & Black Study Stevphen Shukaitis, Stefano Harney, Fred Moten https://hub.xpub.nl/bootleglibrary/read/599/pdf#page=109
'It's a Numbers Game' (pp 7-13), Radical Tactics of the Offline Library Henry Warwick https://hub.xpub.nl/bootleglibrary/read/366/pdf#page=9
'From Work to Text' (pp 155-164), Image, Music, Text Roland Barthes https://hub.xpub.nl/bootleglibrary/read/257/pdf#page=160
4: Scribes Getting Personal Writing Machines, (pp 26-28) N Katherine Hayles https://hub.xpub.nl/bootleglibrary/read/464/pdf#page=27
'The Future of Writing' (pp 63-69), VilΓ©m Flusser: Writings VilΓ©m Flusser https://hub.xpub.nl/bootleglibrary/read/173/pdf#page=102
El Paseo Community Garden: Recognizing Our Elders and Rebuilding Intergenerational Communities Tamara Becerra Valdez https://wholelife.hkw.de/un-learning-archives-in-the-age-of-the-sixth-extinction/
5: Gardening the Library The Catalogue of Shipwrecked Books Edward Wilson-Lee https://hub.xpub.nl/bootleglibrary/read/791/epub
6: Paper Machines As We May Think Vannevar Bush https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1945/07/as-we-may-think/303881/ and https://hub.xpub.nl/bootleglibrary/book/788
'Near Print and Beyond Paper Knowing by *.pdf' (pp 111-135), Paper Knowledge: Toward a Media History of Documents Lisa Gitelman https://hub.xpub.nl/bootleglibrary/read/280/pdf#page=126
'An Archive of Words', (pp 271-305) Science in the Archives: Pasts, Presents, Futures Daniel Rosenberg https://hub.xpub.nl/bootleglibrary/read/732/pdf#page=280
7: A Textile, A Framework The Future Looms: Weaving Women and Cybernetics Sadie Plant https://hub.xpub.nl/bootleglibrary/read/335/pdf
'E-Books, Libraries and Feelies' (pp 76-97), Computing as Writing Daniel Punday https://hub.xpub.nl/bootleglibrary/read/573/pdf#page=93
8: Permutations The Garden of Branching Paths Jorge Luis Borges https://hub.xpub.nl/bootleglibrary/book/107

Films

Week Title Contributors Link
2: Print Screen 'The Fridge, Books', Fifty Minutes Moyra Davey https://www.ubu.com/film/davey_50.html
3: Text, TBC Digital Amnesia Bregtje van der Haak https://thoughtmaybe.com/digital-amnesia/
The Internet's Own Boy: the story of Aaron Swartz Brian Knappenberger https://archive.org/details/TheInternetsOwnBoyTheStoryofAaronSwartzHD
4: Scribes Getting Personal Nuestra Herencia: Senior Legacy Project at El Paseo Community Garden On the Real Film https://player.vimeo.com/video/627093348?h=b106025349&dnt=1&app_id=122963
5: Gardening the Library Short animated video of the Memex Dynamic Diagrams https://youtu.be/c539cK58ees
6: Paper Machines The Jacquard Loom: A Study in Book Production RIT Cary Graphic Arts Collection https://youtu.be/2hk5500VK2k
The Computer Chronicles - Hypercard The Computer Chronicles https://youtu.be/FquNpWdf9vg