Richard Ovenden. Burning the Books: A History of the Deliberate Destruction of Knowledge. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2020. 308p. $29.95 (ISBN 978-0-674-24120-6).

Jason Dyck

Abstract

Bodley’s Librarian Richard Ovenden writes with a sense of urgency. Libraries and archives are under assault today, he argues, and our complacency is leading to alarming levels of reduced resources for our “storehouses of knowledge” (9). Burning the Books: A History of the Deliberate Destruction of Knowledge is a call for renewed support for memory institutions, specifically increased funding for digital preservation projects. Despite its title, Ovenden’s book is not a history but rather a series of personal reflections on historical examples that cover the ways in which knowledge—in physical and digital formats—has been destroyed in the past. His narrative is largely guided by his intimate knowledge of the Bodleian Libraries’ collections, which he references in most chapters of his study. Ovenden also confesses that he wrote Burning the Books in “anger at recent failures across the globe” (5) to adequately provide librarians and archivists with the resources they need to safeguard social memory for future generations.

Full Text:

PDF HTML
Copyright Jason Dyck


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Article Views (Last 12 Months)

No data available

Contact ACRL for article usage statistics from 2010-April 2017.

Article Views (By Year/Month)

2022
January: 68
February: 52
March: 52
April: 40
May: 9
June: 10
July: 8
August: 3
2021
January: 0
February: 0
March: 0
April: 0
May: 0
June: 190
July: 27
August: 38
September: 49
October: 43
November: 45
December: 50