Please cite all images and parts of the paper to Cindy A. Nguyen
Video of Presentation:
This talk examines the transformation of library reading in colonial Vietnam from a symbol of French modernity to an everyday practice of Vietnamese modernity and social life. Focused on the 1920’s and 1930’s Central Library Reading Room in Hanoi, I demonstrate the ways in which Vietnamese students, urban readers, and administrators challenged and redefined the meaning of the library into a Vietnamese space of public sociability, self-learning, and global knowledge.
Today I started writing the beast of the dissertation on Vietnamese libraries. “Builders and Users: Creating the Vietnamese Library 1887-1986”
The Vietnamese library was never quiet.
Readers flooded the reading room of the Central Library to escape the heat in the summers, and lovers huddled in corners during the unforgiving Hanoi winters. Frequent library patrons complained loudly to library staff and the public press about the lack of chairs for readers and unfair borrowing privileges between Vietnamese and Europeans. Everyday incidents between workers and readers, French and Vietnamese, coalesced into the ever so frequent epic library drama: a slap to the face, a lifetime revocation of library privileges, and a mysterious death reported as a suicide.
I recently had the opportunty to present my research and research methods at my Fulbright host institution, Vietnam National University – Social Sciences & Humanities University (Đại học Quốc gia Hà Nội – Trường Đại học Khoa học Xã hội và Nhân văn). The audience included professors, lecturers, researchers, and students from the department of history and libraries and information, senior professors on libraries, and a few archives personnel from the Hán-Nom research institute (Viện nghiên cứu Hán nôm).
On Thursday, September 17, 2015 I journeyed to the Prelinger Library for the inaugural ‘Place Talks: Visual Lectures about Location.’ Accompanied by my friends—a geography and maps librarian and a digital humanities technologist—I wanted to support my friend, Charlie Macquarie, for his talk and also to explore the famous Prelinger Library. Charlie is an archivist, librarian at Bancroft Library, artist, and writer from Northern Nevada. He leads up the “The Library of Approximate Location”—a project to “explore landscape, place, and the way we use information to define our relationships to the resources that enable modern life.” The Prelinger Library is located in the transforming South-of-market neighborhood in San Francisco. An independent research library, the Prelinger Library was born out of the collection of a pair of curious collectors, Megan and Rick Prelinger. The library consists of 19th and 20th century historical ephemera, periodicals, and material mostly from the United States. The library is organized in such a way to inspire accidental discoveries and connections and encourages ‘use’ rather than passive consumption. Instead of a topical mode of organization, the books are organized geospatially—starting with material on San Francisco spiraling out to topics on outer space.