Thursday, July 01, 2010

Are Libraries Necessary?

Jule Siegel posted a link on the Book Arts List to this article on the Fox Chicago website:

I thought I'd share some of my comments:

I think all of us lovers of books and libraries need to speak up. Libraries, to me, are the most democratic institutions we have in this country and their existence is essential. In contrast to the Fox news article, a recent story in our local paper was about how community support stopped the Mayor from making major cuts to the library budget.

I am very interested in the digital/book debate and hope that the future holds the coexistence of books and digital media. I think the western mind has a hard time accepting duality and both instead of either/or. Our idea of progress seems to be ditch the old and embrace the new. I am hoping that maybe this time we can do keep both. There is information that is perfect to get in digital form. There is nothing like curling up with a book that you hold in your hand.


my croft said...

When I was teaching (creative writing), I dragged my students to the library. They were reluctant but the threat of "a full-point reduction in your grade if you miss this" was persuasive.

The hip, young, wicked-cute librarian would lay out a roomful of materials -- diaries, letters, pamphlets (including the guides to New York's Soho that Art Speigleman, of Maus fame, created) -- and walk the students through what a "special collection" is. He would talk about getting all the voice message tapes from an artist's phone, and explain how, now that they're getting electronic media from various people, there are difficulties accessing the material because they don't have computers that read media from "that long ago" (the 1980s).

At the end of his talk, the students would be dazzled. Inevitably one or two would sidle up to me and say, "This is better than the Internet." And I would say, "I know. That's why we're here." One student went on to get a Master's in Library Science as a result of this adventure.

Are libraries necessary? Most emphatically yes.

kat smith said...

If I may let me draw two comparisons. When the sewing machine was invented did everyone stop sewing by hand? No. The beauty and technique of an artist who can do handwork is not comparative to quickly made items that are machine made. The pleasure and joy as well as the meditative feel of hand sewing is not the same as machine sewing. It is all about history and tactile experience. Also when cars were invented did everyone stop riding horses. Cars can get you there faster,more comfortably, and with air conditioning, but there is not the experience of the freedom and connection to nature as well as your body. If we look at our society it would seem the more mechanical we become the less human we become.

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