making it public/keeping it private

making it public/keeping it private

Simon Browne

see also human reading, inter-depending, scanning

The library depends on its public, just as the public depends on the library. Sharing of texts is the heart of library culture. A completely private collection lacks sociability. Libraries that operate outside of the law (shadow/extra-legal/pirate/+++) also depend on tactics to survive, such as password protection and invite-only systems for registering new users. In this context, publishing is not broadcasting, scattering seeds of information widely to encourage maximal distribution. The public sphere created by the library is limited by necessary measures designed to sustain it.


Image: Chained books at the medieval Hereford Library, an illustration from Streeter, B. H., The Chained Library; A Survey of Four Centuries in the Evolution of the English Library, B. Franklin : New York [1970]