Archive for Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Library value

October 4, 2006


To the editor:

I enjoyed Mark Hirschey's Take a Stand (Journal-World, Oct. 2) maintaining that libraries are obsolete. If it's satire, it's very clever. If it's heartfelt, here's a response to Mr. Hirschey's charges:

1. Libraries are slow and inefficient: Faster, however, isn't always better, as someone - maybe Casanova - said. I guess we could speed-read Shakespeare's sonnets. It's great to have that option, but is it the best one? Let's not confuse efficiency and effectiveness.

2. We can find multiple information sources on the Internet to verify the information we seek: I haven't checked lately, but I'll bet I can find 25 Web sites that say Elvis lives. I appreciate the opportunity to include a research professional's advice in my information searches.

3. Libraries are obsolete because books don't foster two-way communication: Interestingly, Plato's Socrates said the same thing about writing - that it was worthless because it couldn't respond to readers' questions (I read that in a book). Sometimes, however, the slow pace of a good book stimulates inner conversations that may be almost as important as those two-way cell phone conversations we overhear.

Mr. Hirschey is absolutely right that digital information is hugely valuable, but this shouldn't be an either/or choice. Books have a reassuring permanence not found in cyberspace - and they're easier to write in (sorry, librarians). And they're portable, and they don't need batteries. As Mr. Hirschey recommends, let's do wire Lawrence for 24/7 high-speed Internet access - but let's not unplug the library.

Charles Marsh,



Kookamooka 8 years, 6 months ago

"BEAUTIFUL. I laughed, I cried. I'll read it again and again." Thanks Charles.

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