Tuesday, July 9, 2013

I think Ben Franklin would approve

As I have previously mentioned here and here, mom and Corey both have collected tons and tons of books over the years. Before we sold mom’s house, Corey and I took very few books to add to our own collections.  But the majority were boxed up for the uneventful yard sale (at least that’s how it appeared) and donated to charity.

Most Americans in the 1730s had limited access to books. Books in early America were rare and expensive.  Only the wealthy and clergy had access to several books.  There were no public libraries.  

In July 1731 Benjamin Franklin introduced his idea of borrowing books to a group of members. 50 subscribers invested 40 shillings each to start a library.  They committed to continue investing 10 schillings a year for the purchase of additional books and maintaining the upkeep of the building that would house the books which were donated.  Thus the library was born  

            I remember card catalogues and check out pockets and rubber stamps and a more reverent atmosphere than many libraries seem to have today.  An ancient librarian always went around with a finger pressed to her pursed lips telling us to “shhh” if our whispers were too loud.

Today it seems that the idea of owning a set of Encyclopedias is out of date.  Do people still buy them?: Or have we become so dependant on the computer that we can go to Wikipedia or Google and research more than the few paragraphs offered in what was once a very brilliant development.  

We now have Kindle fire, I Pads, the Nook . . . free sites, paid sites, downloads . . . slowly modern technology seems to be replacing books.  APPEARS to be – don’t imagine it could ever replace picture books – the joy of reading to a child . . . but you never know.  Post offices don’t have near as much going out in the way of letters – ever since email . . . . or so it seems.  The blue mailbox doesn’t seem as plentiful as when I was younger.

There are still schools that use books for reading and teaching – not everyone has access to a computer or a hand held device that requires WI FY and we’ve become so dependent on modern technology providing the answers right at our finger tips it may make one wonder if some point in time that  books will totally be replaced by modern technology.

And I look at our founder, Benjamin Franklin, who would probably glow at the very idea of holding a tablet in his hand and looking up references and reading pages and smile and say it is genius (or whatever word they used back in 1730) I think he would greatly approve of this modern technology.  I hope they don’t take away from the library.  I hope the library (and books) may be enjoyed by many generations yet to come.

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