FYI France

File 3: Ejournal and archive

by Jack Kessler,

July 15, 2009 issue. This file presents an archive copy of the issue of the FYI France ejournal, ISSN 1071-5916, which was distributed via email on July 15, 2009.

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Versions of the following have appeared online regularly, since 1992, as a feature of the FYI France ejournal, ISSN 1071-5916, which is distributed for free via email every month except August. Ejournal subscriptions may be obtained via email request to:

Here this file is one of a number made available -- hopefully attractively, all in one place, and relevant to libraries and online digital information work in France and Europe -- as part of FYI France (sm)(tm), an online service to which anyone can subscribe for 12 months by postal mailing a check for US $45, payable to Jack Kessler, to PO Box 460668, San Francisco, California, USA 94146 (site licenses also are available): please write your email address on the front of your check. And you can pay via PayPal, on the FYI France homepage:

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Book history & Lyon, in September


As in the past I reproduce here the Institut d'histoire du livre's latest wonderful excuse for,

-- also, and not incidentally, enjoying a wonderful French city offering wonderful weather and a beautiful setting and good people and great food --





Lyon, 1-4 September 2009

Several places are still available for three of the courses offered this year by the Lyon-based Institut d'histoire du livre's Book History Workshop.

The courses are:

The Book History Workshop is aimed at book and printing historians and at the many other specialists who encounter questions related to book and printing history in the course of their work : researchers, teachers, archivists, librarians, museum curators, antiquarian booksellers, collectors, designers, etc.

The courses offered by the Institut d'histoire du livre cover various aspects of the history of the book and graphic communications. Subjects are dealt with from both theoretical and practical points of view through illustrated lectures, discussions and close study of original documents.

The courses will take place in Lyon from the 1st to the 4th September 2009. Classes will be held at the Ecole normale supérieure - lettres et sciences humaines (Lyon) with sessions at the Lyon City Library, the Printing Museum and the Ecole nationale supérieure des sciences et de l'information et des bibliothèques (Enssib library school).

Tuition fee: 490 euros

In order to facilitate access to collections of original documents the number of participants is limited to twelve per class.

For further information see:

or contact:

Anne-Laure Collomb
Bibliothèque de la Part-Dieu
30 boulevard Vivier-Merle 69003 Lyon / France



-- Lyon-in-September -- how could anyone resist?




That said, a "digital libraries" Note:

In an online digital world in which we obtain our out-of-print texts via GoogleBooks and Stanza -- on our iPhones -- and we get in-print texts online too, now, courtesy of Amazon's "iPhone App"... anyone who hasn't tried all this yet must, it's amazing...

All the more reason, I believe, to learn about the printed book:

The old print collections will be saved, now -- from the depredations of fingerprints and peanut butter and banana peels and so on -- from the users -- as so many generations of grumpy librarians openly or secretly have wished that they would.

Just-in-time, too: this particular Younger Generation's habits do not extend to reverence for the printed page -- harrumph... but then I've watched the spills and the scribblings too often...

Nowadays printed books in the central campus "library" study hall & social center primarily serve to prop up iPhones and iPods and other digital devices, so you can text & Twitter & Tweet & beep while you study.

But all the better to digitize and preserve the old printed collections, now, while they are not being used -- and before they decay, or burn or rot or simply get forgotten -- future historians will badly need these artifacts, when they come to acid paper's great 19th-20th c. lacuna, and wonder what really happened 'way back then.

Many institutions now are answering the preservation challenge: Google is helping... so are most major libraries, many of the newspaper archives and print journal firms which remain standing, publishing houses, movie companies with their old "films", corporations and government agencies with their aging print "archives", also photo archives, music archives.

These folks know the value of such collections, commercial and otherwise, even if the current digital information-overloaded user generation doesn't, yet. So when the data-miners achieve breakthroughs, from their current good but still very early start, these places are where they will find much of their gold.

Already, then, the texts do get digitized, the artifacts saved in off-campus & secure & HVAC'd locations. So the situation is better than it was 50 years ago, when "fingerprints and peanut butter and banana peels" reigned, and printed books without backups were greatly abused -- I remember... harrumph again...

Someone has to keep the candle lit, however, while the digital Goths are marauding -- or the Huns or the Mongols or the Ottomans or the Crusaders or pick-a-marauder -- someone has to do what they did at Bobbio, and St. Gall, and out on the wet and frozen fringe in Ireland, and up at Umberto Eco's Aedificium, and preserve not just the objects but also the knowledge of how they worked, how they were constructed and used.

You can be that someone... save civilization, the way the Irish reputedly did so long ago (Thomas Cahill, How the Irish Saved Civilization, Anchor, 1996)... take a trip to Lyon, this September, learn about gatherings and quires and fonts and watermarks... also about acid paper and railroad editions...

So that when your grand-daughter comes to you and asks you, in your dotage, "Why did they print-out the entire encyclopedia?", you can tell her of a world long before in which "texts" all were carried around in portable little "printed books".

And when she complains of the short attention-spans of her own children, and of their digital civilization, you can tell her of a communications medium -- still existing, through preservation and tender care -- which can absorb the attentions of a small child beneath an apple tree, or a scholar in a study, in a single tale or topic throughout the entire length of a contemplative afternoon.

Have a nice Summer. But book your place now, for September-in-Lyon.


Jack Kessler,







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