Issue 4.3

A Book is a Unit of Time: Library Deselection and the Work of Mourning

Alice Dailey

 

Like many college and university libraries that are embracing the resources of the digital age, the library at my home institution, Villanova University, has been undergoing a massive process of “deselection.”[1]  This term is a euphemism for getting rid of books—over a hundred thousand books—to make room for new books, for more student study space, and for an aesthetically pleasing glass atrium free of unsightly book clutter.  Where will the books go? faculty ask.  They will be donated, the library website assures us—that is, unless nobody wants them.  The statement on the fate of the unwanted inauspiciously ends there.

The process of culling library books in one’s field—of “deselecting” the old and unpopular, the redundant, the unfashionable, the also-ran—raises...

Humble Almanacs, Immense Influences: Bernard Capp’s Astrology and the Popular Press, English Almanacs 1500-1800

Katherine Walker

 

Bernard Capp’s Astrology and the Popular Press, English Almanacs 1500-1800, published in 1979, arrived at an opportune moment for scholarship in the history of science and the history of ideas.[i] Expanding on the provocative, but brief, discussion of almanacs in Sir Keith Thomas’ Religion and the Decline of Magic (first published in 1971), Capp takes these humble documents even more seriously.[ii] As a result, Capp’s contribution to historiography is two-fold: demonstrating methodologically the rigors of a more local, focused reading of a genre and putting to productive use the ubiquity of almanacs. Capp gestures to the central role that astral modes of thinking played throughout the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries...