Abstract

The document is one of the oldest material objects of all recorded civilizations, one upon which we are, in many ways, still dependent today. Documentation — that is, documents and their associated practices, institutions, and histories — plays an important role in helping to materialize information, transforming it from something seemingly intangible into something tangible. Indeed, one of the main effects of documentation is information’s materialization. This article contributes to new materialism by introducing a documentary approach to analyzing and understanding information’s materiality. The article calls for a more materialist reorientation in the library and information science (LIS) field, specifically, and for considerations of information generally, by drawing attention to the important role played by documentation in the materialization of information. This reorientation also serves as a response to Ann-Sophie Lehmann’s call for greater material literacy to help us better learn and understand more about our material surroundings. Lehmann argues that we need to have more awareness of and appreciation for the basic materials of our daily life and world. She explains that to uncover the richness of the material world, including how it affects us and its implications for our lives, we need to know what it is made of; in other words, what actually makes up the objects and things that we need and use? Documentation science complements and supports Lehmann’s call for material literacy by drawing attention to documents and our practices with them. It explores how documents relate to the material world and vice versa. One places a specific document, or documents, at the center of observation, study, and analysis and thereby develops documentary dialogues about and for it, uses the document to better illuminate its context, and integrates the document in teaching and researching information.

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Additional Information

ISSN
2157-4189
Print ISSN
0026-5667
Pages
pp. 96-111
Launched on MUSE
2017-04-16
Open Access
No
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