Robert Darnton on why books are importanttags: books
To regular readers of The New York Review of Books and to those who've read The Great Cat Massacre and Other Episodes in French Cultural History (which has been translated into more than a dozen languages) and The Forbidden Best-Sellers of Prerevolutionary France (winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism in 1995), one of historian Robert Darnton's more recent titles came as no surprise: The Case for Books: Past, Present, and Future....
Your lecture at the University of Memphis is titled "Digitize and Democratize: Libraries, Books, and the Digital Future." Care to give us a preview?
Robert Darnton: It may sound tendentious, as if the alternative is between democratizing or digitizing. But they're not alternatives. The two are complementary. The alternative is commercialization. My talk will deal very briefly with the history of libraries and books, but it will mainly discuss our present situation and where we're headed.
I think we're in a period of transition, and we all know the future is going to be overwhelmingly digital. But, meanwhile, analog printing is still going strong. So it's not that books are extinct. In fact, more books are published each year than the previous year, in the U.S. and Britain and many places.
The issue facing us today is one of access: How in this mixed world of digital and printed media are we going to promote the public welfare, the right of the public to access information? That may sound abstract and unreal, but it's very real, because there are a lot of commercial operations that want to make money by restricting access....
comments powered by Disqus
- New Hampshire professors at odds with library over discarded books
- Troubled history fuels Japan-China tension
- Independent Scotland's last gasp forgotten in Panama jungle
- LBJ was the ‘most-threatened president in American history’
- New exhibit at the World War I Museum ... Over by Christmas: August-December 1914
- Ken Burns on Colbert to promote his new documentary, "The Address"
- UC Santa Barbara History Department featuring a series on the Great Society at 50
- Historians are trying to recover censored texts from World War I poets
- Diane Ravitch blasts the NYT for failing to understand the controversy over Common Core
- Mormon history professors debate atheists in bid to foster greater understanding