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The Tangible vs the Intangible

Hello and welcome back to this week’s edition of the blog, detailing my internship journey with the Mills Archive Trust! Last week’s blog has gone down so well, I’m told that I’m now on the shortlist to be knighted within the next 500 years, so I’m hoping to keep that momentum up with this week’s blog, keeping with the same, more academic approach!

Poster Image

In this piece, I will be discussing the inherent differences between the tangible and the intangible, and I know what you’re thinking, ‘he’s going off on one of those incoherent tangents again’, but no! What I will be looking at are the differences between reading a book online, and reading it in real life, and hopefully by the end of this blog you will be as convinced as I am that reading a book in person is so much more gratifying than reading a book on a screen.

As a student, I can recognise the importance and convenience of online services such as Google Books and JSTOR. They allow researchers and academics like myself to access books at the touch of a button, allowing me to extract the content that I need, very quickly and easily. However, at the same time I think that this approach takes away a lot of the majesty and elegance of books. The true beauty of books is when you are viewing them in the flesh. For me, to be able to hold a book in your hands and turn its pages is a feeling which cannot be replicated on a screen ⁠— a view which has been cemented since joining the archive.

This week as you know, I have been cataloguing more challenging books – hence having to use the library extensively to find books and read their content to discover how best to categorise them. I think one of the beauties of libraries is that fact that you are able to stumble across something you had never even contemplated reading, enticed by an interesting-looking covers, and really enjoy reading it. This has happened to me on numerous occasions this week, when I had been searching on a shelf for a book I wanted to categorise, and picked out a different book because the cover intrigued me. You never know what you might stumble upon when delving into a library, which I feel is one of its beauties: an unknown which cannot be replicated online and on the screen, as I am sure many of you will agree.  

On a last note, I would just encourage each and every one of you reading this to delve into the fantastic resource which is the library here at the Mills Archive Trust. As I have said in previous blogs, not all of the books that we have are just related to just milling; whatever your interest – social history, public health, industrial archaeology, and family history – we’ll have it here in the Mills Archive library! I feel like the library is very much an untapped resource for people with all differing interests, hence why I am encouraging you to come and explore it, as you never know what you might find! (You may find some tea and biscuits downstairs if you do visit though!)

So that’s all for this week’s blog – I do hope you’ve found it as interesting to read as it has been for me to write this for you all. And I hope you will all join me again next week in my adventure here, at the Mills Archive Trust!