Volume 49, Number 4 (Nov/Dec 2014)

Tanya Clement
The Ear and the Shunting Yard: Meaning Making as Resonance in Early Information Theory (p. 401-426)

Our cultural institutions host large collections of audio recordings comprising important cultural artifacts. Some of these recordings date back to the nineteenth century and up to the present day. These recordings include music but also poetry readings, field recordings, and presidential speeches and phone calls, as well as the only recordings of languages, oral traditions, and voices that we no longer remember. We have dedicated significant resources to digitizing these collections, yet, even digitized, these artifacts are only marginally accessible for listening and almost completely inaccessible for new forms of access and scholarship. In order to discover convergences in seemingly divergent theories that may guide how we build information infrastructure around our sound heritage, this article considers how early information theory, much of which was crafted within the context of developing communication and sound technologies, can provide a framework for thinking through how to build an information infrastructure that facilitates inquiry with digital audio collections in the humanities.

 

Nicola Wilson
Boots Book-lovers' Library and the Novel: The Impact of a Circulating Library Market on Twentieth-Century Fiction (p. 427-449)

In a report for the Society of Bookmen in 1928, British publishers estimated that between a quarter to two-thirds of all the books they published went to the big four circulating libraries: Boots, Smith’s, Mudie’s, and the Times Book Club. This article examines the literary impact of one of the largest of these, Boots Book-lovers’ Library (1899-1966), which by 1935 had around 400 libraries attached to their high-street pharmacies catering for the literary tastes of over one million subscribers a year. The article considers the impact of the Boots Book-lovers’ Library on authors’ practices of writing and revision, and on literary marketing and censorship, focusing in particular on James Hanley’s The Furys (1935) and using unpublished correspondence in the Chatto & Windus archive at the University of Reading to demonstrate how the publisher’s sense of the tastes and expectations of the Boots library reader influenced the revisioning process.

 

Sandra Roff
A Room of Her Own: The Woman's Library, A Footnote to New York City Library History (p. 450-468)

The revolutionary idea of a library for working women in New York City can be traced to 1830, but remained dormant for twenty-eight years until a group of prominent New Yorkers revived the cause. In 1858 an address by Henry Ward Beecher and other influential citizens reviewed the benefits of such a library, and after two years of planning the woman’s library became a reality. New York City was unique in providing a library just for women; however, financial support dwindled, and it was forced to be taken over by the Women’s Protective Union by 1870.

 

Jane Zhang
Recordkeeping in Book Form: The Legacy of American Colonial Recordkeeping (p. 469-491)

As a legacy system, book-form recordkeeping plays an important role in documenting and preserving American colonial history. Through a close examination of four sample colonial collections in the Boston area, this study looks into the capacity of book form as a recording, keeping, organizing, and retrieving system in American recordkeeping history. The study highlights the importance of understanding the characteristics of recordkeeping forms and their historical transformations in managing modern archives.

 

William Aspray, Melissa G. Ocepek, George Royer
On Cars and Food: Reflections on Sources for the Historical Study of Everyday Information Behavior (p. 492-525)

Historical approaches are beginning to be used in the study of everyday information behavior. The ideal sources for carrying out this kind of scholarship would be large bodies of correspondence or large numbers of diary entries that discuss particular everyday activities, spread across long periods of time. Given the general lack of availability of these kinds of sources, historically minded everyday information behavior scholars need to find alternative source materials to employ in their research, even if these sources give only indirect rather than direct information about individual’s everyday information behavior. This paper discusses a number of these alternative sources (consumer magazines, popular magazines, corporate marketing literature, guidebooks, reviews, and various kinds of advertising) and shows how they were used in historical studies on car buying and eating out in America.