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Shannon Mattern’s “Bureaucracy’s Playthings” Featured as Part of The Reanimation Library’s “Word Processor” Series


The Reanimation Library periodically invites an individual that they admire to respond in writing about a book from the library that he or she finds particularly engaging. The majority of work produced from the library is visual in nature, yet the library contains a tremendous amount of written material that also merits attention. Faculty member Shannon Mattern’s “Bureacracy’s Playthings addresses Mina Johnson and Norman Kallaus’s page-turner Records Management (1967). Word Processor is an initiative that encourages critical investigations of the wide-ranging attitudes and ideologies contained within the collection.

Shannon Mattern is an Associate Professor of Media Studies at The New School. She has written about libraries and archives, media companies’ headquarters, place branding, public design projects, urban media art, media acoustics, media infrastructures, and material texts. Formerly a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the History of Art at the University of Pennsylvania, she has also taught at NYU, Parsons The New School for Design, and Rutgers University. Her work has also appeared in Public Culture; Space and Culture; The Senses & Society; Music, Sound and the Moving Image; the International Journal of Communication; Invisible Culture; Design and Culture; the Journal of Architectural Education; and several edited volumes. She also edited a special issue of Media Commons’ The New Everyday on “notes, lists, and everyday inscriptions,” and she is now the journal’s editor.

Previous installments of Word Processor are available at


The Reanimation Library is a small, independent Presence Library open to the public. It is a collection of books that have fallen out of routine circulation and been acquired for their visual content. Outdated and discarded, they have been culled from thrift stores, stoop sales, and throw-away piles, and given new life as a resource for artists, writers, cultural archeologists, and other interested parties.

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