RECOMMENDED: Speculative Collections

Bethany Nowviskie (Digital Library Federation) published the text of the talk she gave at the Harvard Symposium about the future of library collecting, “The Transformation of Academic Library Collection: A Symposium Inspired by Dan C. Hazen.” It is the sequel to her talk, “Alternate Futures, Usable Pasts,” featured in the Review last week.

In this talk, entitled “Speculative Collections,” Nowviskie argues for “future-oriented, humanistic digital libraries.” She urges the profession to consider designing systems and platforms to empower end users to interact with collections for future use rather than for “retrospect.” She opens with “Reproducibility. Openness. Transparency. Rationality. Interoperability.”  She closes with, “Permeability. Possibility. Agency. Hope and respect.” This library of the future, to channel Jarrett M. Drake, could be liberatory.

An argument for future-oriented, humanistic digital libraries is not an argument against maintenance and repair, or against appreciating the past and honoring and protecting what our archives house today. Instead, it’s a suggestion that we might use the active technologies of our digitized cultural heritage better: to transform our shared and disparate “apprehensions of temporality” in a way that links prospects for the future with an ethic of care for the past—and for the people who will always live in the spaces in-between.

dh+lib Review

This post was produced through a cooperation between Katherine Ahnberg, Caroline Barratt, Rebekah Cummings, Rebecca Dowson, Nickoal Eichmann-Kalwara, Vanessa Hannesschläger, Stephen Lingrell, Alicia Peaker, and Susan Powelson. (Editors-at-large for the week), Caro Pinto (Editor for the week), Sarah Potvin (Site Editor), Caitlin Christian-Lamb, Roxanne Shirazi, and Patrick Williams (dh+lib Review Editors).