Inheriting library cards to Babel and Alexandria: contemporary metaphors for the digital library

Gooding, P. and Terras, M. (2017) Inheriting library cards to Babel and Alexandria: contemporary metaphors for the digital library. International Journal on Digital Libraries, 18(3), pp. 207-222. (doi: 10.1007/s00799-016-0194-2)

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Librarians have been consciously adopting metaphors to describe library concepts since the nineteenth century, helping us to structure our understanding of new technologies. As a profession, we have drawn extensively on these figurative frameworks to explore issues surrounding the digital library, yet very little has been written to date which interrogates how these metaphors have developed over the years. Previous studies have explored library metaphors, using either textual analysis or ethnographic methods to investigate their usage. However, this is to our knowledge the first study to use bibliographic data, corpus analysis, qualitative sentiment weighting and close reading to study particular metaphors in detail. It draws on a corpus of over 450 articles to study the use of the metaphors of the Library of Alexandria and Babel, concluding that both have been extremely useful as framing metaphors for the digital library. However, their longstanding use has seen them become stretched as metaphors, meaning that the field’s figurative framework now fails to represent the changing technologies which underpin contemporary digital libraries.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Gooding, Professor Paul
Authors: Gooding, P., and Terras, M.
Subjects:Z Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources > Z665 Library Science. Information Science
College/School:College of Arts & Humanities > School of Humanities > Information Studies
Journal Name:International Journal on Digital Libraries
ISSN (Online):1432-1300
Published Online:22 September 2016
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2016 The Authors
First Published:First published in International Journal on Digital Libraries 18(3): 207-222
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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