Books | Libraries | Innovation | Organization of KnowledgeJuly 9, 2018 By Phillip Pantuso
In a windowless room tucked into a ground-floor corner of a co-working and incubator space in DUMBO, Brooklyn is the Sorted Library. You would never find it, if you weren’t looking for it. It’s less a library in the traditional sense (you can’t borrow the books), and more a reading room-cum-social space for those who find themselves there (by invitation only, at this point). From more than 3,000 volumes spanning all categories, visitors are invited to create a miniature library around a topic or theme of their choosing by selecting three to five books and filling out a card to explain how each title fits into their collection. Its founder, Dev Aujla, calls it a “cultural organization that is rethinking the modern library experience.”
The primary goal of the Sorted Library is to encourage a serendipitous discovery process by, counterintuitively, limiting the amount of material available for discovery: in offering visitors fewer choices, the library forces them to be flexible. You can see what the results look like on the Sorted Library’s Instagram. The collections are by turns profound (“The Fictional Life + Death of a White Man”), abstract (“Fuzzy”), whimsical (“Books My Mom Teaches to High Schoolers”), instructive (“Building With Intent”), and wryly humorous (“Books Sometimes Used to Justify Shitty Behavior”).
Aujla, a writer and entrepreneur originally from Victoria, British Columbia, wants to promote “non-linear thinking,” a heuristic he finds increasingly important in our algorithmically determined world. “There’s something that happens differently when you look into poetry, architecture, art, history, and you’re constrained [by] the amount of information you have,” he told me. “We always have access to everything, but this isn’t the New York Public Library—I can’t just get the book on the suburbs I’m looking for. There is no book on the suburbs here! So you’re forced to dig around the architecture section, or find something in American politics, and create a collection around an idea or impression you have. I’m advocating for a different, more creative way of thinking.” Read more...