“It is clear that libraries cannot preserve a record of the world, even if they really wanted to, even if such a thing existed. In the first case, the library’s borders would have to coincide with those of the world itself, as Manguel says, and the second would assume its completion. We are more amenable to the idea that the world is multiple and that libraries do not convey the image of the world with their material, but together with it produce its multiplicity. They resemble rhizomes, as explained by Deleuze and Guattari: “any point of a rhizome can be connected to anything other, and must be (…) not every trait in a rhizome is necessarily linked to a linguistic feature: semiotic chains of every nature are connected to very diverse modes of coding – biological, political, economic, etc. – that bring into play not only different regimes of signs but also states of things of differing status.” We will keep returning to this sentence because it seems to us that it explains the library’s essence, its correlation with discourses and things. If so, then libraries are second-hand systems, configurations that always have to be produced again. Are they a delusion then, spatial shells wherein a special regime of surplus reigns, and are male/female librarians defined in their imperfection, in the division of surplus, between disciplining the profession and its impossibility?
Not much is written about the issue of weeding, and from the aspect of library performance indicators, it is mostly considered as crucial in building the library collection, protecting the library material and providing the best possible service to users, thus presenting the image of the library as a clean and “up to date” space that offers the same “up to date” product.
Following the logic of neoliberal capitalism that has no room for the old and used, the male/female librarians, diligent stewards, remove the surplus of books from the shelves, writing them off from the holdings. In doing so, the criterion is often simplified: for example, the last loan date.
(…) However, seen from a different perspective, the question of weeding is also a question of the recontextualization of librarianship within the domain of information ethics, social responsibility of the profession and power relations, and even a mere mention of its reconsideration will strike a blow to the capitalist ethos. Thus, its recontextualization within librarianship, will open the space for critical reflection and revaluation of weeding practices, the idea being that the stability of the library, as an institution dealing with knowledge, is crucial for society to function in situations of radical divisions, crises and precariousness. This is why we should keep in mind that librarian “disobedience” against the capitalist control of information and knowledge is not just a resistance tactic but a necessity inscribed in the essence of the profession. This requires critical awareness of the male/female librarians, breadth of thinking and knowledge and the sensibility of amateurs. The latter implies a passion for books and the belief that they, with their limitless and immeasurable connections to other configurations, systems or semiotic chains, help make this world a better and more knowable place. Perhaps it is precisely in this sense that Alberto Manguel concludes his A History of Reading with a photograph of three men standing amidst the rubble of a library in London destroyed by a fire bomb, who are reading. They, he says, “are not choosing the books over life outside,” but are instead “trying to persist against the obvious odds; they are asserting a common right to ask; they are attempting to find once again — among the ruins, in the astonished recognition that reading sometimes grants — an understanding.”
By contextualizing the reflections on the book as an object, within the Western European political and cultural circle and the time frame determined by the contemporaneity of the moment in which we write, the actually irreducible positions of the post-war state and peacetime, suddenly become comparable. The physical destruction of a library in the past, today takes place through the conscious dispossession/extraction of library material based on the paradigm of the necessity of continuous generation of economic value. Of course, the comparison is radical, but walking between emptied library shelves is equally chilling. For a moment, however, it seems that even a reminder that “library culture is not just helpless, impersonal and pretentious, but rather unexplored, kept secret and instrumentalized” can change perspectives.”
_ Excerpts from the text Libraries or on the Value of Waste by Irena Bekić and Petra Dolanjski, comissioned for the event OBJECTBOOK _ an amateur library of objectbooks made by artists for everyone.
Authors of OBJECTBOOKS, presented within the Amateur Library of Out of Sight
Published by and on loan from S. S. Kranjčevića Library, Zagreb City Library
Ana Hušman _ Library 0 In General (2018 / ongoing): Shannon Mattern/Hito Steyerl / John Berger / Brandon LaBelle/ Heather Davis / Henri Lefebvre / Michael Taussig / Leslie Kanes Weisman / Elizabeth A. Povinelli
On loan from or/and published by Out of Sight
Božena Končić-Badurina and Duga Mavrinac
Awoiska van der Molen
You are invited to bring an OBJECTBOOK produced and/or owned by you, and include it (temporarily or permanently) within the Amateur Library of Out of Sight.
The standard loan agreement will be made, stating that you are the owner of an objectbook. You can always retract the objectbook from the Amateur Library of Out of Sight, after sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the written request to collect the book.
The event is supported by the Flemish Authorities / Cultural Activity Grant