Matthew Battles





Matthew Battles


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Matthew Battles is a Curatorial Fellow with metaLAB, a project of Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society. He lives in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts.

Average rating: 3.41 · 1,629 ratings · 266 reviews · 9 distinct worksSimilar authors
Library: An Unquiet History

3.46 avg rating — 1,355 ratings — published 2003 — 17 editions
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Palimpsest: A History of th...

2.99 avg rating — 123 ratings — published 2013 — 6 editions
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The Sovereignties of Invention

3.17 avg rating — 30 ratings — published 2009 — 3 editions
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Widener: Biography of a Lib...

3.50 avg rating — 8 ratings — published 2004
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Tree

liked it 3.00 avg rating — 5 ratings — published 2016 — 3 editions
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Tree

liked it 3.00 avg rating — 3 ratings
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The Library Beyond the Book

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3.40 avg rating — 52 ratings — published 2014
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The Scarlet Plague

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3.60 avg rating — 2,999 ratings — published 1912 — 241 editions
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The Love of Books: The Phil...

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3.62 avg rating — 66 ratings — published 1344 — 65 editions
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“Andras Riedlmayer described a colleague who survived the siege of Sarajevo. In the winter, the scholar and his wife ran out of firewood, and so began to burn their books for heat and cooking. 'This forces one to think critically,' Riedlmayer remembered his friend saying. 'One must prioritize. First you burn old college textbooks, which you haven't read in thirty years. Then there are the duplicates. But eventually, you're forced to make tougher choices. Who burns today: Dostoevsky or Proust?' I asked Riedlmayer if his friend had any books left when the war was over. 'Oh yes,' he replied, his face lit by a flickering smile. 'He still had many books. Sometimes, he told me, you look at the books and just choose to go hungry.”
Matthew Battles

“What we face is not a loss of books but the loss of a world. As in Alexandria after Aristotle’s time, or the universities and monasteries of the early Renaissance, or the cluttered-up research libraries of the nineteenth century, the Word shifts again in its modes, tending more and more to dwell in pixels and bits instead of paper and ink. It seems to disappear thereby, as it must have for the ancient Peripatetics, who considered writing a spectral shibboleth of living speech; or the princely collectors of manuscripts in the Renaissance, who saw the newly recovered world of antiquity endangered by the brute force of the press; or the lovers of handmade books in the early nineteenth century, to whom the penny dreadful represented the final dilution of the power of literature. And yet, the very fact that the library has endured these cycles seems to offer hope. In its custody of books and the words they contain, the library has confronted and tamed technology, the forces of change, and the power of princes time and again.”
Matthew Battles, Library: An Unquiet History

“In the ideal public library, we are all readers of the “middling sort.” Reading whatever we will, we fulfill a public function, preserving the sacrosanct space of inner thought that is our birthright. Assaults on that birthright in the forms of legislation, surveillance, and censorship ultimately are precisely as dangerous as our acquiescence in them.”
Matthew Battles, Library: An Unquiet History

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