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Transcript of The Library
Without libraries, what have
we? We have no past and no
future. -- Ray Bradbury
Politics and Law
Religious groups are not the only groups to motion for book censorship, nor are specifically Christian religious groups.
Salman Rushdie's "The Satanic Verses" was vilified by the Muslim community for blasphemy.
In India, Arundhati Roy's "The God of Small Things" was put before the Indian Supreme Court, where the concerns about the relationship between a Christian and a low caste Hindu in the novel were expressed.
Many popular titles in the United States have been banned for religious standpoints the novels allegedly take.
Titles that are banned for religious reasons alter what is available to the public through avenues like public libraries.
"Wrapped Up in Books" Belle and Sebastian
Like art and literature, music also romanticizes libraries and bibliophiles-- specifically women.
Notice such lyrics as: 'rainbow bridge', and 'we've got a fantasy affair'. The language evokes notions of the romantic reader.
The song's uptempo, light-hearted beat and the hushed vocals are almost precious, which positions the ideal reader as a delicate, shy, woman.
Library of Alexandria
One of the largest libraries of the ancient world.
Operated from 300 BC to 30 BC
Papyrus scrolls and clay tablets
Several accounts of complete or partial burnings
Writing Material: Production
Libraries are funded through
local, county, state, and federal grants.
Most of the funding for libraries is from city and county allocations. State and federal funding make up a smaller proportion.
Libraries are also funded through grants for specific improvements. like new computers or e-readers.
Libraries have two basic budgets for a year: a capital budget and an operating budget.
The separation of the budgets explain why-- in the case of Des Moines' six public libraries-- there have been five renovations and one new building since 2006, yet hours at all branches have been reduced.
Though libraries do not make a profit, the American Library Association encourages patrons to think of the library as an essential investment in a community's future.
In times of economic strife, there is increased patronage to the library because of the availability of free or low cost entertainment.
Libraries also serve the economic need of a community by offering workshops for its patrons.
The correlation between library use and a poorly performing economy means they are facing cuts when they're needed the most.
On the other hand, the short documentary: 'Why Libraries Matter', demonstrates various ways libraries help people every day in New York City.
The documentary not only shows how important the resources that the library offers are, but how critical the relationships among patrons and librarians are.
Despite the social function the library serves, budget cuts prevent the library from staying open later and every day of the week.
The use of film to represent libraries explores the romanticized ideals as well as the realities of the space.
The Modern Library
Many changes happened before libraries could become an idea, let alone a valuable one.
The kinds of changes in political thought required to make libraries a thinkable idea did not occur to the United States, as a nation, for many years.
1865: slavery abolished
1918: Compulsory education
1960s: integration of schools
Without these changes in political thought and the legislation to support it, the kinds of people the library helps the most would not be positioned as deserving of educational opportunities.
Protestant Reformation and 'The Reading Public'
Religious institutions contribute significantly to the development and regulation of the reading public.
For a closer look...
"Paperback Head" Tegan And Sara
'Paperback head, you get carried away. Stitch up your spine to keep the suitors away.'
Much like "Wrapped Up in Books", this track's lyrics depict a person who's lost in books-- carried away by them.
The character in the song is using books as a way to deflect human relationships shown by the lyrics, "keep the suitors away", and instead finds respite in literature.
The character is also transformed, in some ways, into a literal book. The 'spine' represents the binding of a book in addition to a bone in the body.
The Librarian: Quest for the Spear
'The Librarian' has an imaginative and fantastical cinematic representation of the library.
The film focuses on a librarian, whose purpose is to protect historical and often magical items in a secret section of the library.
The task of the library and the librarian is romanticized as the literal guardians of history and art. And on a less literal level, the guardians of culture and knowledge.
The depiction of libraries, as well as the creation of the spaces, demonstrates that they have a profound effect on their patrons.
'The Librarian', Giuseppe Arcimboldo (1566)
Oil on canvas
A librarian is more than a caretaker of books. The painting suggests a librarian is also person 'made of books'. A person made of stories, culture, and knowledge.
The painting works to decenter conceptions of what being a librarian means, and what their responsibilities are.
Here, Arcimboldo depicts a man-- 'The Librarian'-- whose body is constructed out of books.
Roald Dahl's 1988 children's novel Matilda explores the profound power of books on young minds, and how libraries provide a safe haven for children.
The title character is neglected by her parents; she finds refuge in the public library.
Though the books has elements that delve into the fantasy genre, the novel resonates at a social reality, too.
The Book Thief
Markus Zusak's "The Book Thief" has a greater inclination towards an accurate representation of history.
The main character is a young orphan named Liesel, living in Nazi Germany.
Liesel learns to read and write, and it becomes a source of comfort to her in the wake of poverty and world war.
The Book Thief
The mayor's private library acts as an oasis for Liesel-- a place for her to escape Nazi Germany
In literature, libraries are figures of knowledge and culture that serve important social functions, too.
There is also the depiction of a book burning in the novel. The burning serves reminds us that the history of libraries and the regulation of culture has been dangerous.
The library is a site of social and cultural tension, and regrettably, the destruction of knowledge is an important mark on the history of libraries.
When there is national or international conflict, the breadth of knowledge available to the public can suffer dramatically.
With the rise of technology, the content, the profession, and the resources libraries offer went through major changes
There are more texts on the sciences, but there are also 'special libraries' dedicated just to medicine, law, engineering, and more.
E-books, DVDs, and CDs are available for check out, and computers are readily available for public use.
Instead of a card catalog, a patron will now use a computer to search for material.
Library sciences are centrally concerned with information literacy, cataloging and organizing material, and technological literacy.
Rethinking the running of libraries as a science instead of book management acts as a way to legitimize the profession of librarianship.
Since the dawn of the computer age, it is also crucial for librarians to have an understanding of how information is distributed and organized digitally.
Even though libraries demonstrate a tremendous value to all members of the community, there's a lot of work to be done if we want to keep public libraries around.
There are things we can do to show support for our public libraries.
Volunteer with library programs, study tables or workshops. Organize your own event at the library.
Become an advocate. Vote for levies and referendums on ballots to give libraries more funding. Make a donation.
But most importantly, check out a book.
Papyrus is a plant that grows around the Nile River. Egyptians made paper by separating the stalks into narrow strips and soaking them in water. The strips were woven together and beaten until they formed a sheet.
Clay is soil mixed with minerals,
metal oxides, and organic materials. Wet clay tablets were left out in the sun to dry or fired in a kiln. Unfired tablets could be soaked in water to use again.
Without this step, the notion of public libraries would not have been possible. Though more recently, religious groups have had more to do with limiting access to books instead of expanding it.
Study tables, English classes, book mailing, and free internet help different kind of people.
'Our aspirations are wrapped up in books' suggests that books are a communal endeavor and that they can provide dreams, careers, and hope.
From creating texts to preserving and organizing them, the technology behind books is diverse.