New Book Announcement: The Future of the Library: From Electric Media to Digital Media


Logan, Robert K. / McLuhan, Marshall

The Future of the Library: From Electric Media to Digital Media

Series: Understanding Media Ecology – Volume 3;  Year of Publication: 2016

PETER LANG: New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2016. XVI, 238 pp., num. b/w ill.
ISBN 978-1-4331-3264-3 pb.  (Softcover) –  See

Book synopsis

Originally written in the late 1970s, this book was untouched for more than 35 years. McLuhan passed away before it went to press, but Logan always intended to finish it. Even though much has changed in the three decades since work on the project was halted, many of the points that McLuhan and Logan made in the era of ‘electric media’ are highly cogent in the era of ‘digital media.’
Looking at the future of the library from the perspective of McLuhan’s original vision, Logan has carefully updated the text to address the impact of the Internet and other digital technologies on the library. McLuhan prophetically foreshadowed the transformative effect that computing would have on «mass library organization,» saying it would become obsolescent. It is perhaps no coincidence that a key theme of the book is that libraries must strive to create context given today’s hyper information overload. The authors believe this task can be achieved by putting together a compact library of books providing an overview of human culture and scholarship.
This book is based on the original text that McLuhan and Logan wrote. Logan’s updates are integrated in the main text and clearly identified by markers. This preserves the flow of the original text and at the same time provides updates in the context of the original study. Other significant updates include two new chapters: Chapter 6 provides a LOM (Laws of the Media) treatment of the new post-McLuhan digital media, and Chapter 7 discusses the impact of these media on today’s library. A second part to the concluding Chapter has been added to update some of the conclusions reached in 1979, and there is also a new preface.


Contents: A Note to Readers – The Library: The Physical Extension of Man’s Memory – (Mother of the Muses) – A Study of Media – Alphabet, Mother of Invention – The Library: A Figure in Many Different – Understanding the New Ground of the Library – Laws of the Media (Lom) and the Library – The Impact of Electricity and Modern Technology on the Library – Laws of the Media for Post-McLuhan Digital Media – The Impact of Digital Technology on the Library – Book Glut, Information Overload, and Pattern Recognition – The Compact Library and Human Scale – The Public Library: Past, Present, and Future Trends – The Library and Education – Future of the Book – Library Futures: Summing Up.

About the author(s)/editor(s)

Robert K. Logan (PhD., MIT, 1965) is Professor Emeritus of Physics and St. Michael’s College Fellow at the University of Toronto. He is the Chief Scientist of sLab at OCAD University. He is the author of many books and articles including Understanding New Media: Extending Marshall McLuhan (Peter Lang, 2010). The book follows on from their joint authorship of Alphabet, mother of invention (1977).
Marshall McLuhan (PhD Cambridge, 1943) was a Professor of English at St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto from 1946 to his passing in 1980. He was the founder of the field of media ecology and author of many revolutionary books and articles including The Gutenberg Galaxy, Understanding Media and The Medium is the Massage. He is the originator of such iconic phrases as «the global village» and «the medium is the message.»

Series Understanding Media Ecology. Vol. 3   –  General Editor: Lance Strate

An excerpt from the original McLuhan-Logan manuscript was originally published on this blog in April of 2015. You can read that excerpt here:

Thomas Fisher Rare Book Libary (part of Robarts Libary at U of Toronto)

One Response to “New Book Announcement: The Future of the Library: From Electric Media to Digital Media

  1. Thank you Alex for mentioning my book = Bob


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