Centres of calculation and unruly colonists: the colonial library in Singapore and its users, 1874‐1900

Centres of calculation and unruly colonists: the colonial library in Singapore and its users,... Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to show how the library management of the Raffles Library and Museum (the former name of the National Library of Singapore) positioned the library in relation to the wider colonial society of which it was a part. More widely, the aim is to explore the role of libraries within a colonial setting. Design/methodology/approach – The paper takes the form of historical research using archival materials. Findings – The paper finds that the Raffles Library and Museum responded to the needs of two kinds of users: the potentially wayward colonist in need of “wholesome” recreation and the scientist/scholar involved in making Singapore a regional centre for the production of colonial knowledge. Originality/value – While knowledge‐producing institutions such as botanical gardens, zoological parks, museums of natural and human history, as well as anthropological and geographical societies now feature prominently in discussions of British colonialism, the colonial library has been overlooked. This paper represents a start at bringing the colonial library into focus as an institutional node designed to sustain colonial endeavors. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Documentation Emerald Publishing

Centres of calculation and unruly colonists: the colonial library in Singapore and its users, 1874‐1900

Journal of Documentation, Volume 64 (3): 11 – Apr 25, 2008

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 Emerald Group Publishing Limited. All rights reserved.
ISSN
0022-0418
DOI
10.1108/00220410810867597
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to show how the library management of the Raffles Library and Museum (the former name of the National Library of Singapore) positioned the library in relation to the wider colonial society of which it was a part. More widely, the aim is to explore the role of libraries within a colonial setting. Design/methodology/approach – The paper takes the form of historical research using archival materials. Findings – The paper finds that the Raffles Library and Museum responded to the needs of two kinds of users: the potentially wayward colonist in need of “wholesome” recreation and the scientist/scholar involved in making Singapore a regional centre for the production of colonial knowledge. Originality/value – While knowledge‐producing institutions such as botanical gardens, zoological parks, museums of natural and human history, as well as anthropological and geographical societies now feature prominently in discussions of British colonialism, the colonial library has been overlooked. This paper represents a start at bringing the colonial library into focus as an institutional node designed to sustain colonial endeavors.

Journal

Journal of DocumentationEmerald Publishing

Published: Apr 25, 2008

Keywords: Singapore; Libraries; Library users; History

References

  • Science and colonial expansion: the role of the British Royal Botanic Gardens
    Brockway, L.

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