Human beings, whether acquiring, preserving, or divesting themselves, imbue objects with strong feelings. Affect is at the core of human relationships with books. In almost any interaction with a book, affect takes over beyond essential form and function: a paper, ink, and cloth artifact with text to entertain or impart information. Consequently, so much of work in libraries relates to feelings about books, and to brokering human relationships around books. This study, conceived during a deaccessioning project at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, in 2018, recounts and explores specific affective responses, such as the expressed desire to retain a book for emotional over intellectual reasons, despite a lack of use, as well as examines the nonspecific impulse to retain every volume, which is rooted in the notion that books simply are too precious to discard. Those who love books share such feelings. As we and libraries collect books, they reflect our identities, focus our longings, and show what we care about. What are the cultural constructs that drive human emotions around books and libraries, even though the objects and the repositories have changed dramatically in form, function, and use over the past quarter century?


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pp. 506-520
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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