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CLS Book Club // Burning the Books

October 19, 2022 @ 10:30 am - 12:00 pm


Join us, as we have invited Dr. Elisa Jones, Assistant Professor of the College of Charleston, to lead our Book Club conversation of Richard Ovenden’s, Burning the Books: A History of the Deliberate Destruction of Knowledge.

Given Dr. Jones’ class, Information Revolutions: The Radical History of Reading and Knowledge, which mirrors Ovenden’s message in his pages – we welcome her to discuss the importance of freedom of speech, the importance of educational access through libraries, and the epitome of what societal dangers lurk when books and knowledge get stuck in the crosshairs.

The CLS Book Club has become a space for conversations about wide ranging topics, but such a book, so directly connected to a library’s mission, has never been chosen. We hope that this book will provide an opportunity to discuss banned books, freedom of speech, educational access, historical importance of librarianship, and the power that libraries hold in the 21st century and beyond.
CLS Book Club is FREE, in-person, open to the public – no matter whether you’ve finished the book, are thinking about starting it, or couldn’t make it past the half-way point. All that is required is an RSVP.

To RSVP, fill out the form at the bottom of the page.

About the Book:
Libraries have been attacked since ancient times but have been especially threatened in the modern era, through war as well as willful neglect. Burning the Books describes the deliberate destruction of the knowledge safeguarded in libraries from Alexandria to Sarajevo, from smashed Assyrian tablets to the torching of the Library of Congress. The director of the world-famous Bodleian Libraries, Richard Ovenden, captures the political, religious, and cultural motivations behind these acts. He also shines a light on the librarians and archivists preserving history and memory, often risking their lives in the process.

More than simply repositories for knowledge, libraries support the rule of law and inspire and inform citizens. Ovenden reminds us of their social and political importance, challenging us to protect and support these essential institutions.

About the Author:
Richard Ovenden is Director of the Bodleian Libraries at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of Balliol College. He was awarded the Order of the British Empire in 2019, is a member of the American Philosophical Society, and serves as Treasurer of the Consortium of European Research Libraries and President of the Digital Preservation Coalition.

About Elisa Jones:
Elisa J. Jones earned her Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. She specializes in French history and the history of rights, with related research interests in the history of the book and censorship. Elisa’s book project The Right to Be Seen and Heard: Liberty of Conscience and the Practice of Citizenship in Early Modern France is a counter-intuitive history of liberty of conscience during the civil and religious wars in late sixteenth and early seventeenth century France known as the Wars of Religion. The unanswered questions this project addresses about how liberty of conscience functioned are nested within the current – and increasingly urgent – scholarly reassessment of the origin and nature of universal human rights. In addition to her two articles in progress, Elisa is planning a new research project that approaches the relationship between religion, liberties, and civil authority through the conflicts over marriage and rape during the Wars of Religion.

Through her previous role as the Early Career Postdoctoral Fellow in the Center for Renaissance Studies at the Newberry Library, Elisa is involved with several ongoing digital history and pedagogy projects. She is currently coordinating the development of a new digital resource for the Newberry’s vast digitized early modern French pamphlet collection, as well as editing and developing content for the Newberry’s Digital Collections for the Classroom. Elisa has worked extensively in libraries and archives, and has taken graduate courses at the School of Information Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


October 19, 2022
10:30 am - 12:00 pm


Charleston Library Society
164 King Street
Charleston, SC 29401 United States
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