Understanding where we have come from gives us a better insight into who we are today. How we started, what influences affected us and key factors of our evolution are extremely important to help shape our future.
The history of libraries is very interesting...especially to someone who loves history. It was interesting to read as civilizations grew and evolved to see what type of library they had and held important. The very essence of civilized society has been preserved in libraries. Reading about ancient Rome, the Renaissance, the monks and even the early 19th century presented a picture however that libraries of those ages were for the elite only. That while preserving the history was paramount, sharing of its treasures was not.
I was really taken aback that it wasn't until the opening of the Boston Library in the 1850s that everyone could enjoy the riches of a library. I had assumed that with the invention of the printing press and the ability to mass produce books, that the need of a library would grow. And with that growth would come patrons. Often the true influence that libraries served in those early days was that of "indoctrinating" our democratic beliefs, especially to new immigrants. This is especially interesting to note that since then the American Library Association has made it their mission to librarians to create collections that would hold pieces that would interest a wide range of beliefs and interests. "Realizing the importance of having a library within a community Andrew Carnegie helped build over 2000 libraries throughout the country." I understood him to be a man of great influence but I was not aware of his lasting legacy on the growth of libraries in urban and rural communities.
Communities hold dear the impact libraries hold in society, I think that we understand that it is what makes us a civilized society. Holding on to what came before us is tantamount for us to advance. Books are like gold to understanding who we are. And it is just fascinating looking back from where we came from.
Rubin, R. E. (2008). Stepping Back and Looking Forward: Reflections on the Foundations of Libraries and Librarianship. In K. Haycock, & B. Sheldon (Eds.), The Portable MLIS Insights from the Experts(pp. 3-14). Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.