Thursday, 14 March 2013

A World Without Libraries?

I love libraries.

And yes I know what you're thinking.  I'm a librarian so of course I would love libraries.

But - and it's a very, very, big but.

My love of libraries would still be there even if I wasn't a librarian.  It's a love affair that I've had since I was a kid and it is, hopefully, a love affair that will continue for a great many more years.

So it always strikes me as rather sad when people talk about how unnecessary libraries are in today's world. 

Libraries have of course been around be for a long time.  Like a very long time.

Almost 4000 years in fact (give or take a century or two).  And in those 4000 years libraries have changed and evolved just like they are changing and evolving now.  They have seen governments and countries rise and fall, the invention of the printing press and computers and the planet ravaged by war, disasters and countless other momentous and significant events.

In the scheme of things libraries are doing pretty good.

And that's how it should be. Because libraries are not only important but necessary.

Forget all the things that you think libraries are about.

Forget about the books, the newspapers, the magazines, the music, the movies, the e-books, and so on and so forth.  Though they have all of that.

And don't even think of them as being depositories and custodians for works of cultural, historical and heritage significance.  Though they are that as well.

No, what libraries really are, at their most basic level, are places of knowledge and ideas and imagination.

And a world without any and all of these things would be a pretty sad place.

Knowledge gives us power.  The power to make choices.  To choose to go right or left or back or forward.

Ideas gives us solutions.  Solutions that see us reach for the stars, to grow beyond what we are, to expand our views and opinions.

And imagination?

Imagination encourages and inspires and ignites us.  It pushes us to reach for the impossible, to dare to dream, to hope, to wonder.

And that is probably the greatest gift that we can pass onto another.

That libraries can do all of these things is pretty damn wonderful. 

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