When I first arrived on campus last fall I remember asking around as to where the library was, and I was told by a friend that it was conjoined to the CULC.
This seemed bizarre to me, as I explained to my friend, because I had been into the building next to the CULC and saw no library.
However, I just assumed I had happened to miss it.
The next day I walked up the hill and saw, written above the entrance directly to my right, “Price Gilbert Library.”
Assuming I had found the library, I stepped in expecting to see beautiful rows of books, and, much to my dismay, I did not.
I walked around for roughly thirty minutes with a pessimistic idea that I truly did not want to accept it, but sure enough it was. Tech’s library has no books.
This piece is dedicated to articulating the importance of traditional libraries, and to those who feel as if they are important but perhaps can’t quite express why.
I would like to begin with stating that I have not talked with anyone on staff, or who runs the library, but could see plenty of arguments for getting rid of the books.
I honestly believe that there are certainly some coherent arguments for doing so.
To begin with, books do cost money, and we have all of our books on an online platform, so why keep them around?
You also then have to pay librarians to keep up with everything, and ultimately end up spending more and more money.
Also, students can now access their books online in their dorms and don’t have to journey all the way to the library.
To that I say fair enough, however, I’m not arguing against an online platform for students to access the books.
That is a wonderful idea. I am, however, arguing that the online books should be an addition to the traditional library, not its replacement.
To begin with, I believe that we all recognize the value of beautiful things, but don’t necessarily attempt to create or preserve them all that much.
Instead replace them with the seductive allure of expediency.
I maintain that libraries are remarkably beautiful places, both naturally and symbolically.
In regard to the natural aspect of this beauty, consider the Library of Congress, what I would hold as the main attraction of Washington D.C.
Its beauty truly cannot be articulated. It is breathtaking in every sense of the word. But there are millions of libraries across the globe that don’t touch the beauty of the Library of Congress, yet, they still have this profound feeling they invoke in us.
This is the symbolic beauty of libraries, and it is much harder to express, but I maintain that it can be articulated, and ultimately is the most important aspect of a library.
A library is a place where truth resides.
When you walk into a library, you are stepping into a place of beauty and truth that excites a feeling in you, a feeling that you are a part of something grand, something vast, and something beyond yourself.
You recognize who you are and what you’ve been given when you admire the rows of books containing ideas that people have labored for, that they have fought and died for.
This feeling cannot be achieved by simply logging into some online library.
To those who argue that this is merely a feeling that should not matter when considering where to invest an institution’s money, I say it is one that should not be ignored.
As social beings we long to be a part of something, to be a part of a community that shares a common goal, and a library offers this to us.
In walking into a library you are stepping into a place in which history’s great ideas are stored, many of which provide us with what we have today.
Many of these ideas are what we owe our very existence to.
There may be some who read this and think that my ideas are crazy, and it certainly wouldn’t be the first time I’ve come under such an accusation.
However, there may be some who read this and feel that this articulates exactly how they feel about traditional libraries.
Thus, while it’s incredibly hard to articulate a feeling, I think the one I’ve articulated here is profoundly important.