ABSTRACT

Surely one of the most paradoxical issues in librarianship is the question of how to organize the texts of a library rationally (i.e., systematically, in ways that place related texts within close proximity or accessibility and in a system that can be easily understood by users) and yet not ideologically (i.e., in ways that subtly or not-so-subtly convey relations that privilege a particular worldview and its patrons). Prior to industrialism and the printing press, when texts were handwritten, few in number, or accessible only to narrow, close-knit groups of users, it is unlikely that anyone noticed or cared that this paradox existed. Historical accounts of textual order in ancient, medieval, and even early Enlightenment times indicate that often no rational order was placed on texts at all, whereas in other cases, the indexing of volumes was done idiosyncratically in ways that refl ected the interests and needs of a particular group of users, who often were also the only users of that collection of texts.