Tag Archives: Libraries

Book censorship in America

“Under the First Amendment, the U.S. government cannot outright ban literature in the United States, but [...]  books can be hidden from public view or written off as conspiracy theory in order to prevent people from reading them.”

“While censorship is often conducted by corporations and governments to prevent words, images or ideas from entering the mainstream, censorship of literature has been around as early as 399 B.C. and has affected intellectuals and philosophers such as Socrates.” [...]

“The urge to censor is hardly the monopoly of any political group. But the greatest threat today comes from the fundamentalist right, with its ideological hostility to other religious or philosophical systems, to homosexuality, to sex education, and indeed to the basic idea of secular education.”

“Whether in print or digital format, books are a precious resource, providing us with information, entertainment, opinions, ideas, and a window on lives far different from our own,” wrote Molly Raphael, president of the American Library Association, in a piece to remind Americans that censorship still exists, even with the existence of the Internet.”

“Free access to books and ideas is the foundation of our government and our society, enabling every person to become an educated participant in our democratic republic.”

From: mintpressnews.com/banned-forgotten-book-censorship-u-s/193202/

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Political Will can Build Cultural Prosperity

“It should be noted that while one’s willingness to read is important, forging a reading-friendly environment is also crucial. From this viewpoint, efforts should be strengthened to build more libraries across the country ― hopefully to put every resident within walking distance of the facilities ― and to organize various events and programs aimed at establishing a strong reading culture. It may also serve this purpose to offer tax deductions on book purchases or provide book vouchers for low-income families, who put aside much less to spend on books.”

The “President [...] has advocated cultural prosperity as one of her key policy goals. Encouraging people to read more books will be the foundation for achieving it and building a society in which all people feel happy and find meaning in their lives.”

From: m.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20140501000391

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How to tend to Book Cemeteries

“When the Britains and America are fused into one book market; when it is recognized that letters, which as to their material and their aim are a high-soaring profession, as to their mere remuneration are a trade; when artificial fetters are relaxed, and printers, publishers, and authors obtain the reward which well-regulated commerce would afford them, then let floors beware lest they crack, and walls lest they bulge and burst, from the weight of books they will have to carry and to confine. …

A vast, even a bewildering prospect is before us, for evil or for good; but for good, unless it be our own fault, far more than for evil. Books require no eulogy from me; none could be permitted me, when they already draw their testimonials from Cicero and Macaulay. But books are the voices of the dead. They are a main instrument of communion with the vast human procession of the other world. They are the allies of the thought of man. They are in a certain sense at enmity with the world. Their work is, at least, in the two higher compartments of our threefold life. In a room well filled with them, no one has felt or can feel solitary. Second to none, as friends to the individual, they are first and foremost among the compages, the bonds and rivets of the race, onward from that time when they were first written on the tablets of Babylonia and Assyria, the rocks of Asia minor, and the monuments of Egypt, down to the diamond editions of Mr. Pickering and Mr. Frowde. …

The purchase of a book is commonly supposed to end, even for the most scrupulous customer, with the payment of the bookseller’s bill. But this is a mere popular superstition. Such payment is not the last, but the first term in a series of goodly length. If we wish to give to the block a lease of life equal to that of the pages, the first condition is that it should be bound.” But, “bound or not, the book must of necessity be put into a bookcase. And the bookcase must be housed. And the house must be kept. And the library must be dusted, must be arranged, should be catalogued. What a vista of toil, yet not unhappy toil! Unless indeed things are to be as they now are in at least one princely mansion of this country, where books, in thousands upon thousands, are jumbled together with no more arrangement than a sack of coals; where not even the sisterhood of consecutive volumes has been respected; where undoubtedly an intending reader may at the mercy of Fortune take something from the shelves that is a book; but where no particular book can except by the purest accident, be found.

Such being the outlook, what are we to do with our books? Shall we be buried under them like Tarpeia under the Sabine shields? Shall we renounce them (many will, or will do worse, will keep to the most worthless part of them) in our resentment against their more and more exacting demands? Shall we sell and scatter them? as it is painful to see how often the books of eminent men are ruthlessly, or at least unhappily, dispersed on their decease.

Without answering in detail, I shall assume that the book-buyer is a book-lover, that his love is a tenacious, not a transitory love, and that for him the question is how best to keep his books. I pass over those conditions which are the most obvious, that the building should be sound and dry, the apartment airy, and with abundant light. And I dispose with a passing anathema of all such as would endeavour to solve their problem, or at any rate compromise their difficulties, by setting one row of books in front of another. I also freely admit that what we have before us is not a choice between difficulty and no difficulty, but a choice among difficulties. …

Clearly these masses, and such as these, ought to be selected first for what I will not scruple to call interment. It is a burial; one, however, to which the process of cremation will never of set purpose be applied. The word I have used is dreadful, but also dreadful is the thing. To have our dear old friends stowed away in catacombs, or like the wine-bottles in bins: the simile is surely lawful until the use of that commodity shall have been prohibited by the growing movement of the time. But however we may gild the case by a cheering illustration, or by the remembrance that the provision is one called for only by our excess of wealth, it can hardly be contemplated without a shudder at a process so repulsive applied to the best beloved among inanimate objects. …

Undoubtedly the idea of book-cemeteries such as I have supposed is very formidable. It should be kept within the limits of the dire necessity which has evoked it from the underworld into the haunts of living men. But it will have to be faced, and faced perhaps oftener than might be supposed. And the artist needed for the constructions it requires will not be so much a librarian as a warehouseman.

But if we are to have cemeteries, they ought to receive as many bodies as possible. The condemned will live ordinarily in pitch darkness, yet so that when wanted, they may be called into the light. Asking myself how this can most effectively be done, I have arrived at the conclusion that nearly two-thirds, or say three-fifths, of the whole cubic contents of a properly constructed apartment may be made a nearly solid mass of books: a vast economy which, so far as it is applied, would probably quadruple or quintuple the efficiency of our repositories as to contents, and prevent the population of Great Britain from being extruded some centuries hence into the surrounding waters by the exorbitant dimensions of their own libraries.”

How best to tend to these book cemeteries, according to William Ewart Gladstone: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/3426

Books make dreams come true

“I know there are children in your community with their own dreams. They dream of becoming a doctor or an inventor or a minister. Who knows, maybe there is a little girl whose dream is to be a writer and singer.

“The seeds of these dreams are often found in books and the seeds you help plant in your community can grow across the world. I hope you’ll agree to become a champion of the Imagination Library in your community.

“You will be amazed at the impact this simple gift can have on the lives of children and their families. We have seen it work in our backyard and I’m certain it can do the same in your community too!”

Dolly Parton

Why reading is important for children

“Even with video games, computer tablets and other digital resources, the book still remains a powerful tool to tell stories, teach facts, and share experiences.

Reading is very important to character development, to understand how stories flow … I can’t say that our kids are reading less. The amount of time given them to read has changed. They don’t spend as much time in the school library. The teachers want the kids to read, but there is a limit on the time they can devote to that.

Children from lower income homes are not going to have a library inside their home … The school and public library are the only places for them to have the opportunity to experience written stories.

While video lays out a visual story for children, reading compels them to use their imagination to create the characters, setting and situations in the story.”

More: http://m.exponent-telegram.com/article_41947942-5dff-11e2-8fa7-0019bb2963f4.html

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Know people by the books they read

“I ask myself repeatedly: Why do I keep all these books that only in some distant future may be of use to me, titles so far away from my usual interests, which I once read and have not re-opened their pages in years. Perhaps even never! But how to get rid of, for example, Call of the Wild, without destroying one of the bricks of childhood; and Zorba the Greek, which sealed with tears the end of my youth; Twenty-Fifth Hour, and so many others, expelled some years ago to the highest shelf, where it lays untouched and silent, with holy fidelity that we ascribe to ourselves.

It is often more difficult for me to get rid of a book than to acquire a new one. Tomes adhere to the shelves in this pact of necessity and oblivion, as if they were witnessing a moment in our lives, which we long consider gone. But while they are still there we consider them part of ourselves. I notice sometimes that people inscribe day, month, and year when they read a book, build a kind of secret calendar. Others write their name on the front page before they lend a book to someone, they write in their diary who borrowed it, and add the date. I saw stamped volumes, as in public libraries, or marked with a business card inserted discreetly between the pages. Nobody wants to lose a book. We prefer to lose a ring, a watch or an umbrella rather than a book that we may never even read again, but which retains in its title a lost emotion.

It is true that the size of a library is important. We show off books as though a great open brain; a miserable pretext and false modesty. I knew a professor of classical languages who specifically prolonged making coffee in the kitchen to allow a visitor sufficient time to admire the titles on the shelves. When he realized that the visitor had ample opportunity to study the collection he entered the room with a tray, smiling with satisfaction.

As readers we spy on our friends’ libraries, if only for fun. Sometimes to find a book we want to read, but do not own, sometimes to find what the animal of our acquaintance has consumed.

We leave the friend sitting in the living room, and when we return we find him standing and sniffing among our books. But the moment comes where volumes exceed the invisible boundary that we designate for them, and pride turns into burden, because from now on the space will be a problem.”

Carlos Maria Dominguez, The House of Paper [my quick / rough translation]

Spying on our friends’ libraries? Stalin said that if you want to know the people around you, you ought to find out what they read. But how do you go about it in the age of e-books?