Can large-form public institutions that are becoming ever more consolidated reflect the processes adopted by Warburg’s or the Prelinger’s libraries?
Warburg’s library did not divide domains by just subject or chronologically, but by subjective association. His library stood as a physical representation of ideas and symbols. I believe libraries function best in this serendipitous nature, as an institution that not only provides access to knowledge but inspires it. A seemingly insignificant idea from one context can permeate and lead to an acute association, drawing a mental roadmap of tangential domains. Traditional library indexing systems don’t serve browsers in quite the same way—it is at best community oriented.
The invisible inner workings of library systems is an integral part of these browsing affordances. The interface is a derivative of the interplay of this hidden network and patron browsing habits. For instance, “floating” practices allow for a tailored local library collection, one that is informed by the needs of its community.
I ponder how library science in the age of digitization and artificial intelligence intermingle. How might libraries be more personalized? Can a constantly evolving neural network trained on personalized data learned from browsing habits produce a digital library completely organized by thought patterns? And if so, what are the ethical implications?