Iconic books are texts revered as objects of power rather than just as words of instruction, information, or insight. In religious and secular rituals around the globe, people carry, show, wave, touch and kiss books and other texts, as well as read them. This blog chronicles such events and activities. (For more about iconic books, see the links to the Iconic Books Project at left.)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Heritage Librarians as "Ambassadors of the Book"

The University of Antwerp will host an international library conference on February 1-2, 2012, on the theme "Ambassadors of the book: Competences for heritage librarians." The conference website explains the goal:
It seems trivial, these days, to state that libraries have been challenged by recent technological, social and economic developments. On the other hand, these developments have not minimized the library’s mission as a memory institution, quite the contrary. Among the many roles that libraries will continue to play in the 21st century and beyond, their responsibility for the preservation of the written heritage is perhaps the one that is questioned least.
I am less optimistic that preservation remains widely acknowledged as a core service of libraries. Rhetoric about accessibility and digitization dominates discussions I've heard and read much more than memory preservation does. I think the organizers are right, though, that preservation remains the chief cultural role of libraries, especially research libraries. It is the one that corporate interests are least likely to replace.

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