We expect libraries to maintain an archive of humanity’s best thinking, but what if a library decided to put so-called “pulp fiction” on the shelves? The term refers to a category of cheaply printed books from the early 1900s about lust, sex, theft, betrayal and degradation that were so lowly regarded that most were “pulped” (destroyed) within a few years of printing. Yet this throwaway category of fiction does offer unique insights into our own “messy, fascinating and appalling” history worth preserving. Our world probably needs more courageous libraries to understand that.
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