Open Social Scholarship Annotated Bibliography/Forms of Open Knowledge and their History

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Open Social Scholarship Annotated Bibliography
← Section I - Forms of Open Knowledge Forms of Open Knowledge and their History New Modes of Scholarly Communication →

Category Overview[edit]

Many institutions have historically privileged the open circulation of knowledge. The resources in this category include historiographical accounts of the development of the public library system in the Western world, with a particular focus on the United Kingdom and the United States (Besser 2004, Hamlyn 1946, Harris 1999, Jordan 2015, Kelly 1966, Kelly 1973). Historically, it was the Philosophical Transactions (1665), the oldest and longest running scientific journal, that pioneered the debates and arguments involved in the decision of making privately circulated knowledge accessible to a public who was predominantly interested in partaking in this knowledge acquisition (Willinsky 2006). Resources detail the rise of the philosophy of public access in seventeenth-, eighteenth-, and nineteenth-century institutions. Open knowledge is a historically based value system with a long tradition (Hamlyn 1946), and the historical publications included exemplify how knowledge was discussed and debated through publication. A number of the resources were written in response to previous research or as a means of summarizing an ongoing debate, thereby emphasizing the conversational foundations of the publications. Overall, this category demonstrates a strong British and American commitment to circulating knowledge products broadly (Besser 2004).

Annotations[edit]

+ Besser, Howard. 2004. “The Past, Present, and Future of Digital Libraries.” In A Companion to Digital Humanities, edited by Susan Schreibman, Ray Siemens, and John Unsworth, 557–75. Oxford: Blackwell.

Besser provides a history of digital libraries and argues for their continued importance in humanities disciplines. Libraries, archives, and museums can use high quality digital surrogates of original material from different repositories so that they appear to be catalogued within the same collection. The author notes that libraries have long upheld ethical traditions, clientele service, stewardship, and sustainability in addition to facilitating use of their collections. Besser details the philosophies of metadata. To correct current problems facing digital libraries, the author suggests that web architecture should no longer violate conventional library practices of providing relative location information for a work, as this impinges on the ability of users to access the material.

+ Burke, Peter. 2000. A Social History of Knowledge: From Gutenberg to Diderot. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Burke discusses the various agents and elements of social knowledge production with a specific focus on intellectuals and Europe in the early modern period (until c. 1750). He argues that knowledge is always plural and that various types of knowledge develop, surface, intersect, and play concurrently. Burke relies on sociology, including the work of Émile Durkheim, and critical theory, including the work of Michel Foucault, as a basis to develop his own notions of social knowledge production. He acknowledges that the church, scholarly institutions, the government, and the printing press have all had a significant effect on knowledge production and dissemination, often affirmatively but occasionally through restriction or containment. Furthermore, Burke explores how both “heretics” (humanist revolutionaries) and more traditional academic structures developed the university as a knowledge institution.

+ Eisenstein, Elizabeth L. 1979. The Printing Press as an Agent of Social Change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Eisenstein highlights the role of the printing press as an agent of social change by adopting a historical approach that investigates the shift from script to print. She studies the implications of this transformation on three time periods specifically: the Renaissance, the Reformation, and the rise of modern science. One of the central thoughts of the book is what Eisenstein terms the “Unacknowledged Revolution” that took place after the invention of the printing press; a time when public access to print media facilitated the growth of public knowledge and formulation of individual thought. Another achievement of print was the standardization and preservation of previous knowledge, which was a much more challenging endeavor in the manuscript generation. According to Eisenstein, this shift marked a crucial step in the development of humankind. By focusing on dissemination, standardization, preservation, and their effects on historical processes, Eisenstein provides a coherent argument about the social effects of the historical transition to the print medium.

Hamlyn, Hilda. 1946. “Eighteenth-Century Circulating Libraries in England.” The Library 5 (3-4): 197–222.

Hamlyn refers to several articles on circulating libraries of the eighteenth century. She claims that, throughout the years 1740-1800, the number of circulating libraries increased, despite claims to the contrary. Hamlyn provides a brief history of the selling of the British Library after Mr. Bell’s bankruptcy, as well as the creation of Francis Noble’s circulating library. She notes that, during this period, business management became essential: fixed subscription rates were introduced, catalogues were published, and records of borrowers were kept. The accumulation of large fortunes by Lane’s library indicates that circulating libraries were a prosperous enterprise in the eighteenth century and that the increase of book lending by subscription evidences its popularity.

Harris, Michael H. 1999. History of Libraries in the Western World. Lanham: The Scarecrow Press.

Harris traces the history of libraries throughout the Western world. He defines the library as a collection of graphic materials arranged for relatively easy use, cared for by an individual, and available to a number of persons. His history includes early religious and governmental archives, and spans the early Babylonian and Assyrian libraries to modern American and European ones. The study takes social, economic, and political conditions into account in understanding the reasons why these libraries flourished. Theological collections are given prominence. Harris considers temple collections as well as the more recognizable theological forms in contemporary America in his study.

+ Johns, Adrian. 1998. The Nature of the Book: Print and Knowledge in the Making. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Johns, a self-professed historian of printing, seeks to reveal a social history of print: a new, more accurate exploration of how print and thereby knowledge developed. Johns’s account of print includes acknowledging the labors of those involved in the printing process, as well as their understandings and anxieties around print and publication. With a distinct focus on the history of science, he explores the social apparatus and construction of print, as well as how print has been used socially. Notably, Johns constructs his argument in firm opposition to Elizabeth Eisenstein’s earlier work on print culture (1979); Johns argues that there is no singular “print culture” as such; rather, there are various print cultures that are all local in character. For Johns, the wide-ranging influence of print is manifold, multiple, and not implicit in a deterministic cause and effect relationship with any single historical factor or trigger.

Jordan, Mary Wilkins. 2015. “Public Library History on the Lewis and Clark Trail.” Public Library Quarterly 34 (2): 162–77.

Jordan follows the Lewis and Clark Trail to visit public libraries from Saint Louis to the Pacific Ocean. She notes that local history and genealogy are considered of high importance in public libraries, while they de-emphasize knowledge of their own histories. She notes that Benjamin Franklin is credited with starting the first public subscription library (The Library Company of Philadelphia) in 1731, and that this type of library tended to be supported and used by white males looking for education and entertainment. In the early twentieth century, women’s clubs often created travelling libraries to share ideas and knowledge among communities. In her visits to these libraries, Jordan explored the physical structures, watched the patrons, and surveyed different library services, specifically querying who used them and why. She notes that 28% of the libraries had paper handouts about the library’s history. She concludes that public library history belongs to the community, and that it is the responsibility of each library to collect and share its history.

Kelly, Thomas. 1966. Early Public Libraries: A History of Public Libraries in Great Britain before 1850. London: Library Association.

Kelly studies the origins of the British public library system from the medieval period until immediately before the Public Libraries Act of 1850. The author summarizes what is known about medieval archives in Britain and discusses the wholesale destruction and dispersion of these materials in Scotland and England following the Reformation. After the Reformation, university institutions, such as Cambridge and Oxford, were the primary holders of library materials in Britain. According to Kelly, the printing press also had a substantial effect on the archives, as it drove down public use of cathedral and institutional collections. The author concludes with chapters on the nineteenth century, which detail the rise of national libraries across Europe on a broad scale and the foundation of the British Museum Library in England. The 1850 Public Libraries Act is generally considered to be the main force behind the creation of more substantial public collections for the future. Kelly, however, contends that this was nothing more than a rhetorical exaggeration for policies already in place in England at that time.

Kelly, Thomas. 1973. History of Public Libraries in Great Britain, 1845-1965. London: Library Association.

Kelly studies the organization, social history, and policies surrounding public libraries in Britain following the 1850 Public Libraries Act up until the 1970s. Kelly focuses on library organization, annual reports, job descriptions, and salaries of librarians in order to determine the social environment of these institutions at the turn of the century. The book historicizes the age of Carnegie, during which Andrew Carnegie persuaded local authorities to undertake the labour of library provision throughout the United States, Canada, and Britain. The study covers the period immediately prior to and during the Second World War. Kelly uses government reports and policies to illuminate library usage throughout the twentieth century. His appendices include early bills to legislate the creation and funding of national public libraries in Britain.

McLuhan, Marshall. 1962. The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

McLuhan traces the ways in which mental outlook, expression, and various forms of experiences have been modified by the phonetic alphabet and by printing, as well as their effects on forms of thought and social structures. He argues that contemporary means of media and communication have resulted in the “global village,” a term that describes a feeling of connectedness that resembles a village-like setting. According to McLuhan, the relationship between humankind and technology is two-way, and technology actively partakes in reinventing humankind. He points to the popularization of literacy and the moving type and their extensive effects on culture and society; according to McLuhan, these technologies gave rise to nationalism, standardization, and the assertion of rationalism, among other significant developments. Although this book focuses on mechanical technology, McLuhan argues that the new electric galaxy has long moved into the Gutenberg galaxy, and that this shift subtly introduces an element of grotesque into contemporary life.

+ Siemens, Raymond G. 2002. “Scholarly Publishing at its Source, and at Present.” In The Credibility of Electronic Publishing: A Report to the Humanities and Social Sciences Federation of Canada, compiled by Raymond G. Siemens, Michael Best, Elizabeth Grove-White, Alan Burk, James Kerr, Andy Pope, Jean-Claude Guédon, Geoffrey Rockwell, and Lynne Siemens. Text Technology 11 (1): 1–128n.p. https://web.archive.org/web/20151012065051/https://web.viu.ca/hssfc/Final/Overview.hthtm.

Siemens’s introduction to this report focuses on the rethinking of scholarly communication practices in light of new digital forms. He meditates on this topic through the framework of ad fontes: the act or idea of going to the source. Siemens argues that scholars should look at the source or genesis of scholarly communication; the source, for Siemens, includes more than the seventeenth-century inception of the academic print journal. It also includes less formal ways of communicating and disseminating knowledge, such as verbal exchanges, epistolary correspondence, and manuscript circulation. In this way, scholars can look past the popular, standard academic journal, and into a future of scholarly communication that productively involves varied scholarly traditions and social knowledge practices.

Willinsky, John. 2006a. “History.” In The Access Principle. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Willinsky draws a parallel between the rise of the printing press and the evolution of the book in the digital age, specifically in relation to access and means of knowledge dissemination. He argues that open access in scholarship and research has a certain “back-to-the-future” form in that it draws on historical traditions to extend knowledge circulation. This parallel is demonstrated through a description of the formation of the scientific journal Philosophical Transactions (1665) and the debates and arguments that were involved in the decision to make scientific discourse open to the larger public, a public eager to partake in this knowledge acquisition. Willinsky relates the founding of this first journal to new forms of scholarly communication and open access made possible by the digital turn, pointing to the increased participation of various peoples all over the world in this mode of knowledge production. Willinsky acknowledges that, similar to the debates surrounding Philosophical Transactions, various debates have taken and will continue to take place with this shift in knowledge communication. He calls for the need to continuously improve the quality and value of access, as well as the exploration of its various potentialities.

References[edit]

  • Besser, Howard. 2004. “The Past, Present, and Future of Digital Libraries.” In A Companion to Digital Humanities, edited by Susan Schreibman, Ray Siemens, and John Unsworth, 557–75. Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Burke, Peter. 2000. A Social History of Knowledge: From Gutenberg to Diderot. Cambridge: Polity Press.
  • Eisenstein, Elizabeth L. 1979. The Printing Press as an Agent of Social Change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Hamlyn, Hilda. 1946. “Eighteenth-Century Circulating Libraries in England.” The Library 5 (3-4): 197–222.
  • Harris, Michael H. 1999. History of Libraries in the Western World. Lanham: The Scarecrow Press.
  • Johns, Adrian. 1998. The Nature of the Book: Print and Knowledge in the Making. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Jordan, Mary Wilkins. 2015. “Public Library History on the Lewis and Clark Trail.” Public Library Quarterly 34 (2): 162–77.
  • Kelly, Thomas. 1966. Early Public Libraries: A History of Public Libraries in Great Britain before 1850. London: Library Association.
  • Kelly, Thomas. 1973. History of Public Libraries in Great Britain, 1845-1965. London: Library Association.
  • McLuhan, Marshall. 1962. The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
  • Siemens, Raymond G. 2002. “Scholarly Publishing at its Source, and at Present.” In The Credibility of Electronic Publishing: A Report to the Humanities and Social Sciences Federation of Canada, compiled by Raymond G. Siemens, Michael Best, Elizabeth Grove-White, Alan Burk, James Kerr, Andy Pope, Jean-Claude Guédon, Geoffrey Rockwell, and Lynne Siemens. Text Technology 11 (1): 1–128. https://web.archive.org/web/20151012065051/https://web.viu.ca/hssfc/Final/Overview.htm.
  • Willinsky, John. 2006a. “History.” In The Access Principle. Cambridge: MIT Press.
Open Social Scholarship Annotated Bibliography
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