I did something I haven’t done in a long time this week. I went to the library and checked out a stack of books. It’s been some time and I realized there was much I wanted to read before Spring Break. Luxury reading is one of those pleasures for which I have always made time, unlike the majority of my peers.
After checking out this stack of books I chose the most interesting one and started to read. But, being a book nerd, I flipped through the book first to explore its contents, landed on the back cover, where they stamp the card in the back, and was instantly surprised.
The last time the book had been checked out was in March of 1992, almost exactly 20 years ago. But the coincidence is not what threw me off. It was the amount of time in which this book had gone without being checked out. I will admit it is not uncommon for me to find the less-noticed books. This one was about archaeology.
But this was a book that many students in the past 20 years could have found useful, whether it was for a research paper or just general knowledge in their subject. After checking the other books I had checked out, it was pretty clear either no one is checking out books at the library, or I just read some really boring material.
So I went to the library and checked around some random sections, only to find there are quite a number of books that haven’t been checked out in a long time. A few of the classics have more recent stamps, potentially because more classes use them.
According to the American Library Association website “Over 169.7 million people were registered to borrow books at public libraries, comprising 57.1 percent of the population in the legal service area.”
More than half the nation is using libraries, but it seems there is a lot more use of multimedia than actual books. This is certainly not a bad thing. With the amount of people who rely on Internet and digital resources, libraries are doing a great service to the community by moving in this direction.
In fact many libraries are moving toward e-books and allowing the rental of digital reading materials. The world is certainly moving in amazing directions.
But we should be careful not to discard the physical so fast. Anything digital can certainly be lost, as impractical as it may seem, and we should strive to save the books on the shelves. They are not only a part of our history, but also an essential part of our culture. Their place in both should be treasured as such.
“Always read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle if it.” – P.J. O’Rourke