“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.”
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.
“We believe art has the power to transform lives and to build understanding across cultures. We believe that the brilliant histories of art belong to everyone, no matter their background.
Smarthistory unlocks the expertise of hundreds of scholars, making the history of art accessible and engaging to more people, in more places, than any other publisher.“