A central problems of libraries is the category — particularly the ones we are accustomed to. They are, Nowviskie writes, “enlightenment-era crystallizations of a singular, dominant understanding,” failing to represent marginalized communities and, on an individual level, “all the other words users might use to describe themselves.” (Drabinski)

I was imagining a library where everyone could have their personal catalog with a preferred set of categories that maps to a shared shelving system (which would be stripped of legible categories or thematic order). It wouldn’t need ‘category words’ that attempt to mean the same for everyone. It could even function without words, arranged visually or spatially on a digital map, or in different ways which, I am sure, others have already pioneered.

I can imagine this library to feel more welcoming for everyone but am afraid it might, at the same time, prevent debate about values that should be shared.

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  • I appreciate your drawing connections between Nowviskie and Drabinski, Philipp. And I love your vision of a “to each her own” library. Yet I’m glad you also question what might be lost in such an egocentric system: not only shared values, but also, perhaps, infrastructural functionality. Why *do* our knowledge infrastructures require some form of standardization? Perhaps this is a good question for Sarah, tomorrow.

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