In the fight to prove the value of librarianship we sometimes like to downplay the importance of books in our world. Yes, we offer access to computers and the Internet, training with a variety of digital media and devices, and a safe community space. But we also provide books, a fact that shouldn’t be ignored. Books are a powerful and vital tool in society.
Author Junot Diaz discussed this in a recent video from Big Think (The full video is here):
I’m not saying that any librarian is saying that books are no longer important. But I do think that we as a profession have recently, as an act of survival, spent a lot of time driving home the fact that libraries aren’t about books anymore. That is not the case. We may not be just about books anymore, but books are clearly important to what we do because books are still so important to being a human being. As Diaz puts it:
“Over the long-term, a relationship with literature produces extraordinary effects in that it brings the reader not only in contact with other times and other places but it brings the reader in contact with themselves.”
Diaz also points out that in bringing us in contact with these other times, places, and even other selves, we can begin to think about how we – individually and collectively – can create a more fair and just society. Libraries can do that. By providing books, a safe place to read them and even opportunities for discussion (I’m thinking of book clubs and discussion panels, friends!), we can be a huge part of the solution to what has been ailing the human race. So my librarian readers – and all by book-loving readers – don’t downplay the book. As The Doctor says: