Libraries & Bookshelves


“Libraries store the energy that fuels the imagination. They open up windows to the world and inspire us to explore and achieve and contribute to improving our quality of life.”

Sidney Sheldon

North Vancouver Library

Libraries are the centre of our society, the portal to adventures, the engines of progress, and the symposiums for discussion. 

As we  enter our fifth month of what I call the Covid19 solitude, which began on March 11, 2020 when the WHO declared a pandemic, we all possess a renewed appreciation of the bricks and mortar buildings – the libraries that grace our cities. Libraries have opened their doors slowly, carefully, over the past few weeks, a long-awaited occasion.

When my local library doors closed with an implacable thud, I felt a sense of loss that comes when you realize, without any doubt, that the world has changed in ways that cannot be fully appreciated until time has passed.  And yet, mingled with the feeling of loss, I recognized we were experiencing an evolving system of media creation  and circulation.

Libraries are more than structures that house books.  They transition with ease and adapt and respond to circumstances.  When the physical doors closed in March and April, those marvelous librarians behind the scenes worked tirelessly to open new information pathways to knowledge acquisition and exchange.  Streaming services, e-book loans, video storytelling seemed to blossom overnight.

We have come a far distance from clay tablets, reed pens, papyrus, parchment, and scrolls. Think of the exponential leap of the Gutenberg Press and the evolution of the publishing industry that has given us the ability of self-publishing.

Libraries are enduring because humanity thrives on stretching the boundaries of what is possible. We seek to preserve what has come before, even as we add to the collective knowledge.  Space is running out on those bookshelves.  Books and ancient manuscripts are being preserved via digitization with increasing speed. With the rise of information technology, the webs and wires that crisscross the earth allow us to access, from our kitchen tables, libraries from around the globe .  

Our homes have become extended libraries, our bookshelves have expanded to Kindle, Kobo and Audible.  We journal and write on apps,  share our thoughts on blogs and podcasts, create movies and memories on YouTube and Vimeo.  We collaborate on virtual meeting and learning spaces.

Libraries and bookshelves will continue to evolve. Futurist envision libraries with spaces that will be completely paperless, with robotic guides, and touchscreen portals.  

For now, I am grateful that the library doors have opened.

Happy reading…

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31 Comments »

  1. Mothers, children, and libraries are a priceless combination which can instill a lifelong love of learning. Even today without access to the buildings, parents can build this love simply by reading for themselves and to their children as often as possible. So happy they are opening in your vicinity!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • So very true, Mary Jo. I remember Frances reading poetry and stories to me as young as 3 and I’m certain that she did before my recollection. There is a special bond that is formed when we share stories. I remember my grandfather’s stories of when he was young. Priceless memories. It is so easy to forget that seemingly trivia events become the greatest and more influential memories. As to our libraries, the idea of “opening” is within the context of Covid19. This is the latest from Vancouver Public Library: “We will be continuing to expand digital collections, services, and online programs. Patrons can pick up holds, borrow and return materials, and access computers. In-person programs, events, reading, and studying are suspended at this time.” We live in interesting times as did all who have walked this world. I am grateful for the gifts of friendships and books. Hugs!!!!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you for this outstanding article, I am trying to think of words to express my admiration for the time and ability that you have to record and put these historical events, photos, historical videos and facts about libraries of long ago so that we might enjoy! ! If these authors, painters, intellectuals of ancient times could see what can be done to preserve their valuable contributions, they would be at a loss to comprehend. This article is a treasure, thank you for sharing your expertise and time!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, Frances, for being the first person to introduce me a library. Remember Chaplain’s library – that tiny house, painted white, surrounded by a garden and trees. I remember it as if it were yesterday.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Dear Rebecca, in this very special period I really appreciate the many possibilities to read books. I especially appreciate to read books in several different languages and therefore have them frequently downloaded onto my kindle, despite the fact that I sometimes have a bad conscious because of this ! For me it is also a real pleasure, as I told you before, to find somebody interested in the same argument and therefore being able to read it together and exchange opinions. Big hug and many little pleasures from Ticino

    Liked by 2 people

    • I am delighted that you stopped by for a visit, Martina! For me, these past four months have been a time of reflection, of reconnecting with life, and of embracing creativity. I especially appreciated your words, “many little pleasures” for that is exactly what I have come to enjoy. My thought for today is “A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading.” William Styron. I am grateful for the way in which we are able to engage in conversations and discussions via technology. Books bring us together. It is indeed a great comfort.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Many years ago I read “Sophie’s Choice” by William Styron and I remember that many tears were running down my cheeks. Unfortunately I can’t find the book just now, but I will try again, when it is less hot.
        I have just started to read Valérie Perrin’s “changer l’eau des fleurs” Chapitre 2 commence avec la phrase suivante: Que veux-tu que je devienne si je n’entends plus ton pas, est-ce ta vie ou la mienne qui s’en va, je ne sais pas.
        When live changes so much as it has lately done and when one get’s older thoughts my come deeper!
        Have a good day, dear Rebecca ,and I thank you for your friendship.:)

        Liked by 2 people

      • Oh Martina, I did not have the courage to read “Sophie’s Choice” as I knew the story and was not ready to take on the emotional journey. One day, I will be brave and open the book! I love that quote by Valerie Perrin: (What do you want me to become if I can’t hear your footsteps anymore, is your life or mine going away, I don’t know.) I used the translator and I know that the nuance has been lost in the translation, but it still has power.

        I am just reading the last chapter of Amor Towles’s, A Gentleman in Moscow, which was perfect for these days of solitude. This is the quote that I keep coming back to read:

        “He had said that our lives are steered by uncertainties, many of which are disruptive or even daunting; but that if we persevere and remain generous of heart, we may be granted a moment of lucidity—a moment in which all that has happened to us suddenly comes into focus as a necessary course of events, even as we find ourselves on the threshold of the life we had been meant to lead all along.”

        Thank you for an excellent conversation! Hugs!

        Liked by 2 people

      • Dear Rebecca, it’s really amazing that being so distant from one another can mean so near instead!! I thank you very much for your friendship:)
        Concerning Sophie’s Choice I feel that it would even be harder nowadays to read it as woman with family than when I was young and maybe more superficial.
        I think your translation of Valerie Perrin’s quote got the tragic meaning!!
        I didn’t know the writer Amor Towles or his book A Gentleman in Moscow, but I listened now to an interview with him, where he mentiones the gentleman from the sophisticated Manhatten, NY. who ended in a Russian Hotel, where he had to live for many years. As a friend has just sent me an article about the new neighborhood in NY. or Hudson Yards, which should be transforming into a very rich area, where you have no contact with real life, I asked myself, where I would feel more closed in between these two places and I immediately found an answer!
        Life is a risk and if we see this clearly in moments of lucidity, as you said, maybe we can also be thankful for what we have received.
        Big hug Martina

        Like

      • After I read your quote by Valerie Perrin, I happened to come across another mention of this author. I felt that serendipity had knocked on the door so found a translation of Valerie Perrin’s “Fresh Water for Flowers.” A very good question to ask ourselves: “Where I would feel more closed in….” I have been giving that considerable thought and find like you, “to be thankful for what we received.” Thank you for adding joy to my day. Big hugs coming back your way with all speed.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Good morning Rebecca, it’s unbelievable with all this many books around in the world! I hope you will like it and the surrounding of the graveyard, where the main character is the keeper and gets into contact with the people, who just pass or with whom she laughs and cries!
        Thank you too, for adding joy to my day.
        Un grande abbraccio Martina

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post, Rebecca! We often don’t know what we’re missing until it’s gone. The corona situation has lead to a new appreciation of institutions such as health care and libraries. And as you say, forced us to find creative solutions.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I agree, Elisabeth! When the dentists closed their doors and doctors used technology to connect with patients, we were shocked by the swiftness of the change. What we thought would always be available to us, on demand, prompted us to rethink our expectations. It is in times of uncertainty that we must find ways in which to keep moving forward find ways in which to connect. Always enjoy our conversation – have a wonderful weekend. Hugs!

      Liked by 3 people

  5. Another wonderful library tribute. That video is absolutely fascinating – what an incredible job they are doing to preserve all those manuscripts. It reminds me of this article about using technology to attempt to read burnt scrolls from Pompei – very much in the ‘accident’ category mentioned by the librarians in the film. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/buried-ash-vesuvius-scrolls-are-being-read-new-xray-technique-180969358/

    Liked by 1 person

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