Most readers have their own idiosyncratic systems for displaying the most valuable titles they own. For a lot of people, it makes the most sense to keep their favorite books on a particular shelf. At The Paris Review Daily, Sadie Stein writes about an odd phenomenon — “The Phantom Shelf,” which consists of books you love so much you had to lend them to friends. (Related: Kevin Hartnett on reading our parents’ bookshelves.)
Flooded with data as we are, each day brings even more innovations and technologies to help us mine, sort, and generate even more information. Asking about the future of libraries is another way of asking where this big, hot mess of information is taking us.
All over the country research libraries are canceling subscriptions to academic journals, because they are caught between decreasing budgets and increasing costs. The logic of the bottom line is inescapable, but there is a higher logic that deserves consideration—namely, that the public should have access to knowledge produced with public funds.
Deborah Yanover, the owner of Bueno Aires’s Librería Norte, told me that his father—the late Héctor Yanover, the bookshop’s founder and another former director of the library—often received offers of first editions and manuscripts, stolen from the library of which he was the director.
The subjects of photographer Robert Dawson’s latest project are beautiful, educational, and in danger; they are public libraries. For his new book, The Public Library: A Photographic Essay, Dawson visited hundreds of public libraries, from little free libraries to icons, in 48 states to photograph “our best example of the public commons.” The Morning News has a few of his photos as well as an essay on the importance of libraries by Charles Simic. “Wherever I found a library, I immediately felt at home.”
Thanks to the generosity of Daniel Handler, the American Library Association has launched the Lemony Snicket Prize for Noble Librarians Faced with Adversity. The prize will award $3,000 and an “odd, symbolic object” of Handler’s choosing to a librarian who “has faced adversity with integrity and dignity intact.” (h/t The Paris Review)