Pasts and Futures of the Library

Kevin Lambert's picture
March 11, 2022 to March 12, 2022
California, United States
Subject Fields: 
Cultural History / Studies, Library and Information Science, Urban History / Studies, World History / Studies, Journalism and Media Studies

A library is a philosophical space and a physical place. Jorge Luis Borges imagined it as a universal logic in which all knowledge was recorded in a language of twenty-five orthographical symbols contained in books of identical length but unique symbolic permutation.  For library historian Mostafa El-Abbadi, the ancient library of Alexandria was the inspiration for the Bibliothecha Alexandrina, whose striking design has now become a consequential place for Eygptian learning and culture.  Chinese historian Xie Zhuo Hua saw the library as not only a symbol of cultural development but also the product of cultural practices that include collection, collation, and utilization. The little Free Libraries that dot neighborhoods in American cities are the material embodiment of community aspirations. Libraries are and have been all these things and more. Yet the future of the library has never looked more open. In this conference, we invite scholars from a wide range of fields including the humanities, social sciences, and information and library sciences, to explore the libraries of the past and to imagine the libraries of the future. How were and are libraries used? What do they provide access to and for whom? What have and should libraries contain, and who, if anyone, should own the rights to those materials? What is the relationship between the archive and the library? What kinds of practices do libraries enable and what kinds of practices maintain them? How does the spatial organization of the library shape its functions? And what kinds of technologies might it exploit in the future?


The conference is in-person, but will also include virtual presentations. Papers will be around 30 minutes in length including time for questions. Please send an abstract of not more than 250 words by 5pm PST November 29, 2021 to:


Emily Bonney: (Conference organizer and Dean of the Pollak Library)

Kevin Lambert: (Conference organizer and Professor in the Liberal Studies Department, CSUF).   

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