Library Collections and Objecthood

By Ann Roll.

Published by The International Journal of the Book

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic Free Download

In 1967, Michael Fried wrote his seminal essay, “Art and Objecthood.” Fried’s essay is a criticism of some Minimalist sculptors, and his central thesis was this: a focus on the very objectness of an artwork or the state of an artwork being an object was actually creating “a new genre of theater” rather than visual art. This notion of theatricality extends to readers’ relationships with physical books. It is well acknowledged in library literature that a human emotional relationship exists between the physical print volume and its reader. Fear and nervousness often come into play when librarians are asked to weed physical collections, despite the fact that duplicative physical collections can often quickly be located by searching titles in WorldCat. Following Fried’s theory and referencing library literature as evidence, this paper proposes that this emotional relationship is not about the book itself as an object or the act of reading, but instead about the theatricality of physically interacting with books.

Keywords: Book as an Object, Libraries, Emotion, Weeding

The International Journal of the Book, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp.1-6. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 186.604KB).

Ann Roll

Collection Development Librarian, Pollak Library, California State University, Fullerton, Fullerton, California, USA

Ann Roll is collection development librarian at California State University, Fullerton and was previously head of acquisitions at the Getty Research Institute. In addition to a Master of Science in library and information science from the University of Illinois, she holds a Master of Fine Art in sculpture from Cranbrook Academy of Art.


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