Thursday, January 22, 2015

Loving Libraries and Why We’ll Always Need Them

Good Day World!

Today’s subject is libraries.

Growing up, I lurked about in those silent repositories of age-old wisdom for countless hours. My respect for libraries grew with each passing year. I will always have a soft spot for them.

Libraries are evolving with the times, but they still face numerous challenges.

New technologies are changing the services that libraries provide, for example, online reference, instruction, document delivery, user-initiated library loan, direct borrowing and self-checkout.

At least one librarian sees the shift to user-initiated services as analogous to fast food, a cheapening or devaluing of what libraries provide, hence the phrase "the McDonaldization of libraries."

I don’t see it that way however. Libraries will always represent knowledge, regardless of how it’s presented. We need libraries. Libraries are free. But all Americans don’t have access to them. The following article is an example of that:

Libraries, Literacy, and the Poor

A depressing opinion article in the New York Times highlighted a study showing low access to books among poor children in Philadelphia, as well as a nonprofit organization called First Book that tries to put new books in poor children’s hands.

The study shows that there aren’t many books for sale near poor children in Philadelphia, and that if there were a lot of families couldn’t afford them. It also demonstrates that even when there are school and public libraries around, they have many fewer books than such libraries in Philadelphia’s wealthier parts of town.

In other words, a lot of time and expense went into proving that poor kids don’t have as much of anything as rich kids. This kind of thing might be truly surprising to tenured professors at big research universities, but not to anyone else. (Full story here)

For those that love reading and collecting literature, a library can be a magical place of the imagination. It's a great place to find volumes on almost every imaginable topic. Library patrons may have a variety of reasons for visiting the library.

All of the great civilizations in the world have gathered information about their history. Without those repositories of knowledge we would have never known about the achievements of Rome, Greece, Persia, and the rest.


X-Rays Help Decipher Secrets in 2,000-Year-Old Papyrus Scrolls

Hundreds of ancient papyrus scrolls that were buried nearly 2,000 years ago after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius could finally be read, thanks to a new technique.

There will always be a need for libraries. I’ve heard the argument that libraries are no longer necessary thanks to technology like the internet. It’s a weak argument coming from drones with other agendas.

Time for me to walk on down the road…

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