Spotlight: Robert Darnton

Picture stolen from A Piece of Monologue.

Readers, meet one of my academic crushes: a Harvard man (currently serving as the director of the Harvard University Library); an Oxford man (a Rhodes scholar); and a damn good book historian.

Robert Darnton and I met – figuratively – in my second-year Bibliography & Print Culture course. He taught me all about his communications circuit, which opened my eyes to all the different people involved in, as well as the different factors that can influence, book production. He’s written some books, too, which I plan to read as soon as I can find a spare moment to go out and grab them. I mean, a book about cats being slaughtered in print shops? Count me in.

I actually saw Darnton speak when he last came to Toronto; he gave a compelling lecture entitled “Books, Libraries, and the Digital Future,” where he discussed his involvement with the then-being-developed Digital Public Library of America. And, after a long wait, the DPLA was finally released this April. It’s really an incredible online resource, so poke around when you have a minute or two. Then mutter a quiet thank you to Mr. Darnton for making it possible.

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