Library Collections and Objecthood


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  • Title: Library Collections and Objecthood
  • Author(s): Ann Roll
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: Information, Medium & Society
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of the Book
  • Keywords: Book as an Object, Libraries, Emotion, Weeding
  • Volume: 11
  • Issue: 4
  • Year: 2014
  • ISSN: 1447-9516 (Print)
  • ISSN: 1447-9567 (Online)
  • DOI:
  • Citation: Roll, Ann. 2014. "Library Collections and Objecthood." The International Journal of the Book 11 (4): 1-6. doi:10.18848/1447-9516/CGP/v11i04/37029.
  • Extent: 6 pages


In 1967, Michael Fried wrote his seminal essay, “Art and Objecthood.” Fried’s essay is a criticism of some Minimalist sculptors, and his central thesis was this: a focus on the very objectness of an artwork or the state of an artwork being an object was actually creating “a new genre of theater” rather than visual art. This notion of theatricality extends to readers’ relationships with physical books. It is well acknowledged in library literature that a human emotional relationship exists between the physical print volume and its reader. Fear and nervousness often come into play when librarians are asked to weed physical collections, despite the fact that duplicative physical collections can often quickly be located by searching titles in WorldCat. Following Fried’s theory and referencing library literature as evidence, this paper proposes that this emotional relationship is not about the book itself as an object or the act of reading, but instead about the theatricality of physically interacting with books.