Bronwyn's Library Blog

Monday, April 18, 2005

Do Libraries still matter?

"In the era of the Internet, will we still go to libraries to borrow books and do research? The answer seems to be a resounding yes, because libraries are more than just a place to keep volumes on dusty shelves."

The author, Daniel Akst doesn't provide an answer, but he writes eloquently. "Libraries are supposed to be quiet, but it’s hard to imagine a place causing more noise than the new central branch of the Seattle Public Library, which sits with its off-kilter geometry and brightly colored interiors at the heart of a city mainly associated with digital technology.

“In more than 30 years of writing about architecture,” Herbert Muschamp enthused in The New York Times, “this is the most exciting new building it has been my honour to review.” He described the Rem Koolhaas design as a “blazing chandelier to swing your dreams upon.”

And then in questioning the role of libraries in a digital age, he writes ... "On the one hand, the digital revolution represents the ultimate democratization of knowledge and information, of which Carnegie likely would have approved wholeheartedly. On the other hand, libraries perform an essential function in preserving, organizing and to some extent validating our collective knowledge. They are traditionally seen as a pillar of democracy. And they provide a place to go—the crucial “third place,” other than home and work or school (and as early library advocates liked to point out, other than the saloon as well). Unlike Starbucks, you don’t have to buy anything, and the wares are as intoxicating in their way as any at a neighborhood bar—except they don’t impair driving."

Thanks Daniel.

You can read the whole article here.


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