ready for summer
The five bookbindings to be studied are carefully chosen. Each has its own place in historical methods and is represented by exemplars in the library collections. Each can also be resolved as a prototype of its exemplars; we can typify the features and structure and produce a prototype model. In turn each prototype can be adapted to categories of book conservation treatment. There are many models; the exemplar, the prototype, the conservation adaptation type and the accomplished treatment of an imprint.
So, what kind of approach to book conservation is this? It is a direct approach for the practitioner who must treat old books out of context with those who made them. At first it is an oddity that historical structures and methods should infiltrate modern work or present a treatment strategy in accord with current library services such as digital imaging. But this is a conservation action and fits the resilient legacy of book use. This a conservative approach; innovation springs from tradition.
Another validation of this model-based practice is an easy and successful adaptation (or avoidance) of a historical prototype in daily work. The sewn board model easily adapts to performance needs of texts with weakened papers and pre-existing saw-kerf sewing stations. The wooden boarded, supported sewing model naturally provides protective control of forces of board leverage transmission while the later, lapped component cover offers an exemplary case construction adaptation. Meanwhile the later tight-joint leather covered model is our guide for avoidance of proven failures!
So the approach is craft oriented and performance validated. Nothing in the history of bookbinding is obsolete; it is all relevant. Perhaps most relevant is the bookbinder’s reliance on the hands prompting the mind at the same time that books are built to provoke cognitive skills beyond the body. The resilience of book transmission is revealed by ambivalence, stealth, good humor and eerie relevance and so is book conservation.
What are libraries? Libraries are mediators between disciplines and learning methods, and they are custodians of communal resources. As such they are not the best planning base for the progressive evolution of universities but they are an accessible base for infiltration and subversion of universities. Libraries can go feral more easily than the university and they can more easily undermine the monetization and accreditation of university learning. It is also relevant that librarians are stealthy.
Librarians are not clueless. A planning displacement of university administrators, library directors and architects by workplace and technology experts and anthropologists is not that disturbing for librarians. For one thing they know that facility and grounds, risk management and parking agencies manage infrastructure. Librarians are also aware of the always hybrid, resilient nature of library services. And allocation of strategic planning authority to students should be amusing.
A new ITHAKA S+R white paper; Designing a New Academic Library from Scratch, 2014, offers no news for librarians. Librarians reinvent their services everyday. More disconcerting is the possibility that new feral behaviors, easily germinated in the library, will collapse the infrastructure of the university somewhat prematurely.
“I hope by now you’ve had the opportunity to experience the Learning Commons–a tech-infused, comfortable, flexible study space with a one-stop academic help center (not to mention Food for Thought, a cafe that serves great coffee and sandwiches). If not, this is your chance to visit this exciting new space and learn how you might be able to make use of its 24 group study spaces, almost 200 desktop and laptop computers, 45-seat TILE classroom, printers and scanners, multimedia resources, and expert library and technical staff.
The product of a unique partnership among Information Technology Services (ITS), University Libraries, and the Office of the Provost, the Learning Commons has become just what we hoped it would be–an intellectual hub for the university, focused on furthering students’ academic success.”
A feral student of resilience in book transmission can turn to the exemplar of the King James Bible. The KJB was extracted out of the languages of Antiquity and then re-projected in translations to modern languages. An even livelier resilience of this book is presented by the contentions over its canonic state with the endless transactions of venerators and modernizers. This whole diorama is wonderfully depicted by Gordon Campbell in his book; Bible, The Story of the King James Version, 1611 – 2011. This is a magnificent bible story and a magnificent revelation of the resilience of the book in society and the feral nature of its persistence.
If you look you can extract a binary here. That would be canonic vs. feral. So let’s look exactly between the two where various landscapes suddenly emerge. These are vistas of the role of books in society and the device of the book at work to conduct and deviate human behavior. There is also the mostly invisible work to produce books and the interplay of divine copy and compositor error.
A fascinating aspect of the book production diorama is the strange capacity of printing to authorize error. Minding p’s and q’s was an injunction after the printing but errors of inverted, omitted, transposed and otherwise mis-arrayed letters were already fixed in the printing. The advent of a fixed word somehow created an authenticity of error. Such an artifice of error is one anomaly or even one instigator of the resilience of the book.
It is another anomaly of the King James Bible and revisions that it is the most produced and least read English language book and even consultation is only by Christians. A further dilution of its efficacy is veneration as literature rather than scripture. The English language Bible, exemplar of the resilience of the book, has gone feral.