Take Note

An exploration of note-taking in Harvard University Collections

literature

Writers Reading, Readers Writing

How does reading gets turned into writing, itself designed (at least in theory) to be read later on? Different media imply different future uses: binding makes lab notebooks tamper-proof, while index cards allow and even invite reshuffling. Time horizons vary: student notes are often designed to be discarded after the exam (the same three-month cycle on which their printed textbooks are resold), while scholars have a lifetime to recoup their investments. According to Herbert Maxwell in 1893, "Unless the recollection of what is read is ensured by notes, reading ….

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