History tells us that we put books on a shelf. Cicero and his library suggest, however, that books don’t go on just any shelf; books ought to be shelved on a proper bookshelf.
What makes a bookshelf a bookshelf is not a given thing; every bookshelf has its own unique life history; every bookshelf speaks to its own cultural context. Bookshelves are dynamic, iterative objects that cue us to the social values we place on books and how we think books ought to be read. What makes a bookshelf a bookshelf are the recurring decisions made about its structure, architecture, and function.