Take a look at a fascinating slide show that shows both old grand libraries and new grand libraries. I love them all. The show poses the question of what libraries should look like now as Washington DC struggles with a decision about what to do about a fairly modern building whose design doesn’t work well in the digital age.
As I thought about the slide show and the interesting comments by each slide, I formed several opinions:
- It is good to have a monument to knowledge in our cities.
- These monuments should not intimidate people, but welcome them.
- They should become gathering places even more than they are now, hosting perhaps spontaneous groups of citizens who get together to do, say, an MIT Opencourseware course together – libraries could become spontaneous universities!
- Writers groups should have homes in libraries.
- Places for quiet reflection should be a mainstay of libraries.
If libraries cultivate the social side of learning, they will have a market beyond the year 2019, the date of their predicted demise. Investing in a place for specifically intellectual exchange will remind us to stay civilized.