Thursday, September 23, 2010

"Books" Series in Gainesville

A six-part fall speaker series on the public’s access to books and their future begins Thursday at the University of Florida and Alachua County Library District.  UF President Bernie Machen will open the series with an invitation to public debate about the future of libraries.

“Imagining the Library: Books in Public Life from Late Antiquity to the Digital Age” will draw attention to the forces of public policy and new technologies that shape libraries and reading practices.

Speakers will ground these questions in discussions of collecting and reading in ancient Egypt, early China, the French Enlightenment, the U.S. Carnegie library movement and the global age of Google. The series will explore this question: As public and university libraries face severe budgetary pressures, what functions should libraries perform in public life?

Sept. 16, 7:30 p.m., Smathers Library Room 1A, UF
“Death and Renewal: Books and Libraries in Late Antique Egypt”
Roger Bagnall, director, Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, New York University.
Although political, technological, religious and cultural changes transformed the format and uses of books in late antiquity, libraries nonetheless remained more private than public. This lecture will address how developments like the rise of Christianity affected the status of libraries.

Sept. 27, 7 p.m., Millhopper Branch of the Alachua County Library, Gainesville
“Carnegie Libraries: Public Reading for the Reading Public”
Abigail Van Slyck, director, architectural studies program, Connecticut College.
An examination of library architecture fostered by the Carnegie movement reveals how it encouraged women to enter into the library profession, shaped reading practices in different English-speaking countries and created an international Anglo-Saxon community of readers.

Oct. 28, 7:30 p.m., Smathers Library Room 1A, UF
“The Benedictine and the Labyrinth: The Enlightenment Library and the Problem of Universal Knowledge”
Jacob Soll, associate professor of history, Guggenheim Fellow, Rutgers University (Camden).
The ambitious building of encyclopedic library collections in the 17th and 18th centuries posed problems to states that tried to manage broad swaths of knowledge. Certain absolutist states and the Catholic Church, however, were particularly innovative in building universal collections.

Nov. 18, 7:30 p.m., Smathers Library Room 1A, UF
“Collecting and Reading in the Early Chinese Print Age”
Hilde De Weerdt, lecturer in Chinese history, Pembroke College, University of Oxford.
This talk will introduce the different kinds of government and private libraries that existed in imperial China, and examine the impact of printing from the 11th century onward on book circulation and reading among these different publics.

Dec. 1, 7:30 p.m., 180 Holland Hall – Chesterfield Smith Ceremonial Classroom, Levin College of Law, UF
“Google and the Future of Books”
Siva Vaidhyanathan, associate professor of media studies and law, University of Virginia.
What does the world look like through the lens of Google? How is Google’s ubiquity affecting the production and dissemination of knowledge? And, what danger does the Google Books Scanning Project pose for the legitimacy of the doctrine of fair use?

Dec. 2, 7 p.m., Millhopper Branch of the Alachua County Library, Gainesville
“Reaching and Teaching the ‘Digital Generation’: Separating Myth from Fact”
Siva Vaidhyanathan, associate professor of media studies and law, University of Virginia.
This lecture questions the myth of the “digital generation,” arguing that today’s adolescents and college students are not necessarily savvy when it comes to using digital media content in a powerful manner.

The lectures are free and open to all. For more information, visit

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