Thursday, October 25, 2007

I have a chapter in a new book that just came out, edited by Catherine McKercher and Vincent Mosco, titled Knowledge Workers in the Information Society (Lexington Books, 2007). Here's what Ursula Huws said about the volume:
At last, we have a book that gives knowledge workers back their agency. With analytical clarity and shrewd judgment, McKercher and Mosco have drawn together an impressive range of contributions from around the world that illustrate vividly, in all their complexity, the hard choices that knowledge workers make each day to balance their urge to creativity with their need to scrape a living and defend working conditions.

My piece is called "The librarian and the Univac: Automation and labor at the 1962 Seattle World's Fair," and it represents a bit of the research I'm doing for my current book project, The push-button library: Computers and the transformation of metadata labor, 1945-1995. Here's the abstract:

The Univac on the Puget Sound gave 84 librarians throughout a diverse geographical and functional division of labor -- in academic libraries, public libraries, school libraries, and corporate libraries -- their first concrete example of information automation. How the designers of LIBRARY-21 understood the labor of these librarians, and how these librarians in turn came to understand their place within LIBRARY-21, illustrates that the 'library of future' which evolved over the next 40 years was less of an inevitable and 'scientific' application of technology in the name of efficiency, and more a complicated negotiation between systems designers, information machines, and knowledge professionals.

You can check out the rest of the contents at the Lexington Books web site.