Physicist as librarian; Henri Poincaré’s intriguing metaphor

Among the new additions to Oxford University Press's admirable series of Very Short Introductions is a revised edition of J.L. Heilbron's VSI to the History of Physics. An interesting read in general, it raises one intriguing idea in particular; the metaphor of physicist as librarian. Libraries and documents feature throughout the book. Heilbron notes that… Continue reading Physicist as librarian; Henri Poincaré’s intriguing metaphor

The future of the library; musing on

Musing, sometimes optimistically, more often pessimistically, about the future of libraries seems to have appeal for many thinkers in and about the profession. Charles Ammi Cutter arguably started it with his late nineteenth-century vision, in some respects remarkably prescient, of a public library one hundred years ahead. From time to time, such musings take a… Continue reading The future of the library; musing on

Senate House Library and the context of documents

“Research is concerned with discovery”, Christopher Pressler tells us in his introduction to Scala Publishing’s splendid new book on the University of London’s Senate House Library, “Libraries are the essential mode of travel.” The centrality of collections of documents in an organized space is the intellectual theme to what might (wrongly) be dismissed as a… Continue reading Senate House Library and the context of documents

The sayings of Maurice Line

In a previous post, I wrote about Maurice Line, the eminent British librarian, who died last year. One of Maurice's specialities was his ability to show up what he regarded as the failings of the profession in a pithy and very quotable style. I reproduce a selection of typical Line-isms below, taken from just two… Continue reading The sayings of Maurice Line

Maurice Line (1928-2010)

Rather belatedly, we should note the death in September 2010 of Maurice Line. One of the leaders of his generation of British librarians, Line was always a proponent of the value of research in library and information. I am not sure whether he would have liked the terms 'evidence-based practice' or 'reflective practitioner', but he… Continue reading Maurice Line (1928-2010)

New year, old idea ?

A new year always provokes thoughts of what has gone and what is to come. The news media, feeding our liking for the comfort of the repetition of the annual cycle, devote much space in January to this kind of reflection, which often seems not to change much from one year to the next. I… Continue reading New year, old idea ?

English public libraries; needing new leadership ?

A report on governance and leadership in the English public library service has been published, following an enquiry by the grandly-named All-Party Parliamentary Group on Libraries, Literacy and Information Management. Cynics have pointed out that this group is not quite the impartial assembly of the great and the good that its title might suggest; it… Continue reading English public libraries; needing new leadership ?

Wirral public libraries saved ?

In a previous post, I wrote about the plans by the local authority in Wirral, in the North West of England, to close half their public library branches, and turn the rest into multi-purpose community centres. A government enquiry into whether this action would break the law which requires the authority to provide an adequate… Continue reading Wirral public libraries saved ?

Ray Bradbury, libraries and the Internet

According to a New York Times story, science fiction icon and general guru, is fighting to save his local public library in Ventura County, California. Bradbury is, of course, most famous for his depiction of book burning in his novel Fahrenheit 451, but the NYT reminds us that some of his other books have significant… Continue reading Ray Bradbury, libraries and the Internet

Prague’s New Library

I had the opportunity last week to see around the newly built, though not yet opened, State Technical Library in Prague, thanks to the kindness of Martin Svoboda, its director. Very different from its predecessor in the mediaeval town centre, the new library sits in a campus suburb a few stops away on the metro.… Continue reading Prague’s New Library