The legacy of the Baroque in virtual representations of library space

Jeffrey B Garrett*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Library home pages and digital library sites have many properties and purposes in common with the Baroque wall-system libraries of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Europe. Like their Baroque antecedents, contemporary library Web sites exploit the moment of entrance and the experience of the threshold to create and sustain the illusion of a "three-dimensional world enclosed by a frame" (Lev Manovich). Now, as then, this other world is crafted to be an aesthetically inviting representation of the vast, complex - and potentially intimidating - abstraction that is library space. Unlike Baroque libraries, however, which were static simulations, computer-mediated interactivity allows the modern electronic library to "morph" based on user input, opening the door to new methods for matching user needs with library resources. The new visual culture of the electronic library combines the universal, panoptical view afforded by the Baroque library with synoptic views on library collections derived from real-time user-computer interaction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)42-62
Number of pages21
JournalLibrary Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Library and Information Sciences


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