“Books are the carriers of civilization. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill. They are engines of change, windows on the world, lighthouses erected in the sea of time.” – Barbara W. Tuchman
We are fortunate to live in a country where books are available to everyone. There was a time when books and the ability to read were luxuries available only to the wealthy. Since the time when governments chose to build libraries and provide resources for their continuation, they have ensured that books are available to everyone, not just to those who can afford to purchase them.
I have always been a book-lover and reader and a couple of hours spent with a book can be one of my favorite things to do. Even with that said, visiting libraries when I am traveling is generally not a priority. However in 2008 I was fortunate to be spending a little bit of time in Ireland. My husband and I were exploring the city of Dublin via the Hop On Hop Off bus tour. We purchased passes that allowed us ride the bus all day, getting off at any spot of interest and spending as much or as little time as we wanted, then hopping on again to the next point we wanted to visit. It was a great way to visit the city since we had just one day. As we examined the options on the tour, I knew I just had to stop at Trinity College Library. (It is also the home of the Book of Kells which is one of the most amazing books every written. To view it was actually one of the highlights of that wonderful day. It was created circa 800 AD.)
This library has been in existence since 1592 collecting books published in the United Kingdom. It has 5 million printed volumes. It is not just about the number of volumes, it is knowing that some of the books on those shelves were written over 400 years ago. If those books had not been written, if the books had not been held safely, what would we know of the history of our world? How would medical knowledge have been passed on, and added to? Many lessons learned by experience would be lost if no one had written about it – as the famous quote states "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it" (George Santanya).
At the entrance of Trinity College Library I saw rooms and rooms with rows and rows of books, and then looked up and saw a second story as well. I simply stood still and stared as I contemplated all those books, all the thoughts and ideas by all those authors through the years. What an immense treasure that library holds. Go to this link for a view of where I stood. http://panoramicireland.com/guide-to-ireland/360-degree-panoramas-of-ireland/trinity-college-360-degree-panorama
In our own small way, here at Jake Epp Library, we want everyone to understand the treasure that we have. I work here, but I am also a library patron. Sometimes when I walk through our shelves, I can stop thinking about our books from an administrative viewpoint, and I see them as open doors to the past, to knowledge, to adventure, to humour, to new ideas. What wealth we can find in the pages of books.