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Saturday, July 10, 2010

How often do you go to the library


When was the last time I went physically into a library? Every week,
but then I am a tactile person and live two blocks from one. They
have special collections and a certain feeling that cannot be
obtained anywhere, at least easily. A place to contemplate,
explore the book next to the one you are interested in on the shelf,
just think and sort as you walk the shelves scanning related
subjects or articles. And they have trained professional librarians.
Library means collection, which goes well beyond books.

The loss of libraries would mean the loss of the art galleries,
performing arts centers, meeting rooms, viewing room, expertise
and other resources they bring, well beyond a collection of physical books.
Public libraries have value in our society. They provide all of what
I listed above and more. They are a wall against creeping illiteracy,
ignorance and the dumbing down of our overall society. Parents
who do use libraries never bring their kids to the library.
What strata of society do they come from? What will happen
if this trend continues? I am with Ray Bradbury, who grew up
practically living in the library. It opens the mind, imagination and intellect.
So, yes, traditional libraries hold great value to our society and its future.
As to virtual libraries, they have their place and their value is increasing.
However consider these thoughts:
What if there is a war or natural disaster involving magnetic pulse and
electronics stop working? Not science fiction as there are natural causes
for such pulses and it is very much both a military weapon and a side
impact of nuclear weaponry.
Access to virtual libraries required technology that cost money and
takes service? What of the poor, or those who live in a society
where a government or a corporation keeps people from having
access to information?
Tactile paper and ink libraries can be hidden, transported, displayed
and stored in homes or collections.
The building and its contents remind the community that it is a real flesh
and blood community, with resources and identity. Often libraries hold
local history, writing, art, culture and identity.
There is a physical feeling and pleasure to reading a tactile book.
Its touch, smell, the reality that others have read it, the wear and tears
that add character and value.
Virtual has its place, but we need both buildings and on-line in the Ethernet.
Besides the best place for those who do not have funds, or those 
whose technology is aging, or those who just want to be away f
rom home, school or work, to access what is in the ether-world is 
at their local or campus library.