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Keynote Speaker Nicholas Basbanes

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President Goldfarb and Dean Huesmann to Present Volumes 1,000,000 and 1,000,001


A Selected Bibliography for the Colloquium
"Information and Authority: Reliability and Legalities"

(by Dr. Felix Chu, Professor, WIU Libraries)

Briggs, Asa, and Peter Burke. A Social History of the Media: from Gutenberg to the Internet. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2002.
An interesting observation is that before Gutenberg, scribes would alter the text as they copy manuscripts. The changes may be unconscious mistakes or conscious editing of sentences and paragraphs. With the advent of the printing press, the same copy of an official version finally becomes available, thus stabilizing the authoritative source. With the Internet where anyone can publish a Web page with unannounced editorial changes, what should be our next step?

Brown, John Seely and Paul Duguid. The Social Life of Information. Boston, Mass.: Harvard Business School Press, 2000.

One of the authors was working with correspondence from the American Revolution era, carefully reading every letter. A historian came in to work on a similar box of letters. He passed each batch under his nose and only opened a few. It turned out that vinegar was used to disinfect letters from towns where cholera broke out, and the medical historian was charting the progress of cholera by noting the address and date if an envelope smelled vinegary. This context is what makes a particular piece of information meaningful. We, as readers and consumers of information, must pay attention to this background in order to understand the value of a particular piece of information.

Burke, Peter. Eyewitnessing: The Uses of Images as Historical Evidence. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2001.

The common conception associates libraries with books. But libraries are more than just a collection of textual materials. Images such as collections of photographs form an important trail of history. They give us a context "to 'imagine' the past more vividly" (p.13). While photographs may give us a reflection of society, drawings and illustrations present us with contemporary interpretations that set up the 'social context' to understand history.

Burke, Peter. A Social History of Knowledge: From Gutenberg to Diderot. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2000.

A rough distinction between information and knowledge is that the former is the 'raw' data and the latter is 'cooked'--processed or systematized by thought. One major concern is the classification of knowledge. A distinction is often made where private knowledge is restricted to particular groups, and public knowledge is shared more widely. The arrangement of books in libraries "would reproduce the order of the university curriculum" (p. 92), a small elite group during the period of concern. The problem is how and when to rearrange the books as the knowledge base changes, being careful not to impose current categorization on older knowledge.

Jackson, H.J. Marginalia: Readers writing in Books. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2001.

This is an interesting study about notes written by readers in the margins or any blank spaces of books. While most notes are related to the content, and may lend help in interpretation of the text, others are simply lists such as shopping lists or class lists. As librarians, we do not encourage writing in library books. However, the value of a book may increase if the marginalia is by a famous person such as annotations by S.T. Coleridge of Martin Luther's Colloquia Mensalia. Another example is annotations by Pope in copies of works by Shakespeare and Homer.

Levy, David M. Scrolling Forward: Making Sense of Documents in the Digital Age. New York: Arcade Publishing, 2001.

This book is not "about the word document but about a class of cultural artifacts and the central idea that underlies them" (p. 6). Even something as simple as a sales slip assumes a context. At the top is the name of the store. Each number along the right side represents a purchase. The number at the bottom is the total for the transaction. Furthermore, the register from whence the sales slip was issued may instruct a faraway computer to adjust the inventory. Thus, the document may reflect and materialize our desires such as the need for the latest information. We want the document for stability but a changing content of that document to reflect The latest.

Nardi, Bonnie A. and Vicki L. O'Day. Information Ecologies: Using Technology With Heart. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 1999.

New technology has an impact on our daily lives and some of us make better use of technology. While new technology gives us better techniques, it is how we fold these techniques into our technical, social and organizational skills into managing our information ecologies that matter. An information ecology refers to the available information around us, its meaning, analysis of the information, application of the results, etc. A more robust ecology would let us look beyond the trappings of our frames of reference.

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