Many thanks to Judy Gombita for recently sharing the blogpost “Librophiliac Love Letter: A Compendium of Beautiful Libraries“.
As I was perusing the photos, it struck me that these libraries make a profound statement about how we value books, knowledge and learning. These rooms are temples and cathedrals.
As information has multiplied in recent decades and access to it opened up, we are losing that sacred aspect to knowledge, and the architecture is disappearing with it. I suppose like most things the implications are both positive and negative. At the same time, I pity people in future who won’t have these kind of refuges to go to. Although much simpler than any of these places, the library in my high school was set apart like this: an oasis of wood-panelled peace among the chaos. It was a place I liked to frequent. It was an anchor. A cyber cafe is just not the same, even if it actually allows you to access more information and many more opinions.
So in a spin-off of a topic raised recently by Toni, my question to you is what is the impact on our shared culture of the migration of information and knowledge to the internet? In the short term, we can argue that access has been democratized an more people have been given voices, but are we losing a long-term perspective? Libraries have been sanctuaries for ideas (and people) for millennia. Sometimes ideas have emerged and been vindicated centuries after first being penned. But will today’s online documents still be available in several centuries in the same way that Leonardo da Vinci’s notebooks are still with us? Will we need technological archaeologists in future who go back and extract texts written in obsolete technology? And what are the implications of this fleeting nature of knowledge for public relations?