01 / (Not a) Manifesto

I was interested in the tyranny of the new, the future that was being shoved down our throats.

– Lewis Baltz, 15-17 November 2009, Paris

The future was digital. And so we digitised.

Our catalogues, our archives, our searching, our news, our art. Everything was to exist in an online, networked world.

But visual culture exists in a changing landscape, often poorly served by our attempts to collect and archive it. What of live art and performance, installation works, or even the very challenge of making visual art accessible by digital means? What of oral histories and internet based art? And how do we facilitate access to new media?

As born-digital works vie with post-digital creations for attention, it becomes the library’s role to mediate between the past and the future.

I love it when art experiments, plays with form and questions function. But how do we approach this as information professionals?

As a librarian, my concerns are primarily about communications, discoveries and encounters with information. I collect, curate, exhibit and index to achieve the widest reach. But as information is formed and produced in new ways, we are increasingly finding that we need to expand the scope of our archives, our teaching and our understanding in order to continue to make this possible.

While the advent of the internet has trigged a total revolution in librarianship, its connective potential must also be balanced with the transience of the medium and the problems with reducing canvases to pixels. But my interest is not in isolating ourselves from this digital field but in seizing control of it. Using it to both present and expose, distribute and broadcast. Utilising it where that is beneficial, and moving beyond it where it is not.

I don’t pretend to have the answers to the questions I have posed. But this is an exploration.

The aim of this project is to amass a series of digital resources and online archives, teaching tools and methods of engagement, and provide a forum for presenting information and discussing ideas, reviews and concepts, in order to broach arts-based librarianship, research and academic support in this modern age.

The role of the library is changing. Embrace the tyrannical new; eat the future.


Baltz, L. (2015). Oral History and Art: Photography. Edinburgh: MuseumsEtc.