“The medicine chest of the soul” — Inscription over the door of the Library at Thebes.
February is Library Lovers’ Month according to Chase’s Calendar of Events, 2008, and it just so happens that I recently ran across an interesting article on the history of libraries published by History Magazine in their October/November 2001 issue. I’ve picked out only a few of the tidbits but the complete article can be found at http://www.history-magazine.com/libraries.html.
According to the article, libraries date back more than 5,000 years. The Great Library of Alexandria, founded around 300bc, had the lofty goal of collecting a half-million scrolls. Evidently the Ptolemies took serious steps to meet this goal by confiscating any book not already in the library from passengers arriving in Alexandria.
The oldest library in America began with a 400-book donation by John Harvard to a new university that eventually honored him by adopting his name. Harvard now has the largest university library in the U.S.
It wasn’t until waves of immigration and the philosophy of free public education for children that public libraries spread. Andrew Carnegie helped build more than 1,700 public libraries between 1881 and 1919.
I wonder what the visitors to the Library at Thebes would think of my daughter’s recent visit her local library in Cape Coral for some quiet time away from her fifteen-month old son in order to study for the Florida Bar Exam. She left the library within five minutes of arriving saying it was a zoo and it was quieter and less chaotic at home.
It’s nice to know libraries are being utilized, however, it seems as though the only similarity to a library is the fact it has books. The quiet rule does not apply; talking in a normal voice is permitted and computers and IPods do not have to be silenced. In fact this library sounds more like a day care center for parents to drop off their kids and let someone else deal with their noise or for lonely adults to come and chat with other lonely adults than a place to seek sanctuary, lose yourself in books and gain knowledge.
I’d love to hear your library experiences in order to determine if this is the library of the future or simply a dissenter from the norm.
You have probably figured out by reading this blog that I am not over my head in editing symbols for The Ride. Evidently my interpretation of ‘next week, if not before,’ was not the one intended by my editor.
We’ll see what the next, next week holds forth. In the meantime, thanks for stopping by.
Jane Kennedy Sutton
Author of The Ride (to be released by ArcheBooks Publishing)
Tags: The Ride, Archebooks, library history, Chase’s Calendar of Events, History Magazine, Library at Thebes, Cape Coral library , John Harvard, Dale Carnegie