Distinguished Lecture: Professor Robert Darnton on technology and the printed word

Jefferson’s Taper and the Future of Books (Cardiff University Distinguished Lecture)

Professor Robert Darnton, Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor at Harvard and Director of the Harvard University Library

Monday 5 December 2011, 6–8pm
School of Optometry and Vision Sciences, Cardiff University

Commercial interests are exploiting digital technology in order to fence off large parts of our cultural commons, an eminent cultural historian will argue in a keynote lecture at Cardiff University.

Professor Robert Darnton is internationally recognised for his work and is a pioneer in the field of book history. He has written extensively on the information age and its effect on the printed word Is leading international debates on library issues, from preservation and access to publishing and technology.

Taking Thomas Jefferson as his starting point, Professor Darnton will trace the journey of the exchange of ideas, from Thomas Jefferson’s ideal of a shared culture to the commercialisation of the internet.

Jefferson compared the exchange of ideas to the transfer of light from one candle to another – a process in which one person gained while the other did not lose. Professor Darnton will argue that although the internet seems to translate Jefferson’s ideal into a viable system of communication, commercial interests are exploiting digital technology and fencing off large parts of our cultural commons. As a result, these commercial interests may dominate the future of books. He will cite the campaign to create a Digital Public Library of America as an answer to that threat: a resource that will make the cultural and scientific record available to all. This effort unites leaders from all types of libraries, museums, and archives with educators, industry, and government to define the vision for a digital library in service of the American public

Professor Darnton’s lecture is part of the University’s Distinguished Lecture Series, which brings eminent and influential guest speakers to the University and a wider audience to showcase their work. In the build up to this lecture, a series of events have taken place to celebrate the University’s Rare Books and Music Collection. As well as showcasing the world-leading multidisciplinary research in the University’s Humanities Schools these events have addressed the challenges and revolutions facing libraries in the digital age.

Jefferson’s Taper and the Future of Books takes place at the School of Optometry and Vision Sciences, Maindy Road and starts at 6.30pm. A reception will take place beforehand from 6.00pm.

To reserve a place at the lecture please email publicbookings@cardiff.ac.uk or call 029 2087 6935.

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