A little over a week ago Rick Gekoski wrote this important piece in the British magazine, The Guardian (posted Jan.27, 2014). In it he sounds the alarm about the overuse of digitalization (e-versions of books, magazines, etc.) and points to the important place which libraries have had and must continue to have in preserving printed materials. Perhaps, as he says, libraries in the future will only be repositories of rare books.
That is not enough for me. The past, present, and future ought to be preserved in printed form. To my mind, printed books and magazines -even images – will continue to have relevance to the end of the age. But I can imagine today’s generation might feel differently. Just don’t close the libraries in my lifetime.
I have posted a few paragraphs of Gekoski’s thoughts here, and encourage you to follow the link to the rest of his article.
…As a species we are altogether neglectful with regard to our heritage and historical records. We lose, destroy, throw away, burn, delete, tear down, modernise. Things fall into disuse, then desuetude. We need to oppose this with all our energies: to resist the increasing pressure on funds and shelf space, and the deterioration of the objects themselves, to counter with strong reason the voices that will increasingly and aggressively complain: what do we need those dusty old things for anyway?
And the answer is that if once books were the providers of sacred texts, they must themselves come to be regarded as sacred objects, and be protected, preserved, studied and admired as we now value the cuneiform tablets and papyrus scrolls of our ancestors. Libraries are our repositories of paper. For 700 or 800 years paper has been how we have known ourselves and each other, recorded our events, thoughts and feelings, aspirations and memories.