Capturing the “Virtual Text” of Book Groups

Academic studies of book groups have noted the “virtual text” created over time in the process of a book’s discussion. In the useful account of Elizabeth Long (2003), the virtual text of a reading group is that evolving and largely ambient set of aesthetic claims, wishes for and production of additional tools (maps, historical footnotes, illustrations, fanfic spinoffs, lists, etc.), and social bonds of elective affinity that make reading — despite its solitary default — a social phenomenon, particularly outside of academia.

By drawing on actual circulation… Read more

Thoughts on “The Library Beyond the Book”

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Public libraries, like many institutions, are data-rich but information-poor. In their recent investigation of “the library beyond the book,” Harvard’s Jeffrey T. Schnapp and Matthew Battles muse over the massive data-stream radiated by contemporary libraries: “Every time a book is taken off the shelf, a file is downloaded, or a computer work station is booted up, a story is told, and cataloged, and filed away in a database. In this way, each act of reading in the library broadcasts a handful of seeds, from which new growths of data will either spring—or disappear into a forest of… Read more