I always find Alberto Manguel an inspiring proponent of libraries, and he’s just written an op-ed essay on “Reinventing the Library” in today’s New York Times. He has always had a bad case of “Bibliothecaphilia,” which happens to be the title of a very engaging exhibition at MassMoCA in North Adams, installed for the entire year. But I can’t resist quoting the conclusion to his case for libraries as “the encompassing symbol of an entire society, a numinous place where readers could learn the art of attention” —
“If libraries are to be not only repositories of society’s memory and symbols of its identity but the heart of larger social centers, then these changes must be made consciously from an intellectually strong institution that recognizes its exemplary role, and teaches us what books can do: show us our responsibilities toward one another, help us question our values and undermine our prejudices, lend us courage and ingenuity to continue to live together, and give us illuminating words that might allow us to imagine better times.”
So if you have any doubts about the future of libraries, keep this in mind as you assess what Williams College has just created.