When I was a kid the library was my sanctuary. I would spend hours wandering the stacks looking for interesting books. I was in love with the pure joy of walking up and down the aisles absorbing the titles until one spoke to me. I would ease the book from the shelf and examine the front and back cover with slow eyes. I loved the feel of the book in my hands and the smell of old paper as I opened it.
Back in those days, you would have most likely have found me in the science section. I was fascinated by a whole range of topics, but science was my passion. I fancied the idea of being a microbiologist, a chemist, or an astronomer. I would gaze into the stars at night with my telescope or look through my microscope at the single celled organisms I had grown in an old jam jar. And once or twice my mom would yell at me because of the foul odour wafting from my room as a result of some concoction I had made with my chemistry set.
Later, in my teens, my love of adventure edged out my love of science and I went off to West Point to learn how to be a good soldier and a leader of men. While my love of science receded, my love of books did not. I replaced science with history and literature.
I love technology. I love the Internet. But the thought of libraries loosing their sacred status to Google makes me sad. In the UK, some 600 libraries are under threat of closure and many have closed already because they couldn’t find enough volunteer staff to run the library.
Librarians are being replaced by machines. Even checking out and signing in your books can be done without human intervention. The card catalogue, what is that? Now it’s all computers. In my local library, there aren’t even any stacks for me to walk up and down. The books are on these portable book stands on wheels, I guess so they can configure the library to make use of the space when the library is not open.
The air of sanctity is gone. The revered librarian as guardian of knowledge is fading.
To help save the libraries please sign this e-petition: