|I am a retired University Librarian at the Thomas G. Carpenter Library
at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Florida. I've worked
in libraries for nearly 40 years and have taught English Composition
at St. Johns River Community College in Orange Park, Florida, and at Florida
Community College at Jacksonville (now Florida State College at Jacksonville). As of May 31, 2014, I retired as the Special Collections Librarian.
I was raised when television was still in its infancy. I remember watching
the Beatles play on the Ed Sullivan show on my grandfather's rather small
black and white TV. I think it was an RCA. It was in a beautiful solid
wood cabinet which was far nicer than any expensive furniture that is made
While it was exciting to watch the Beatles on Ed Sullivan, what was really
exciting to me at that time was that I had a library at my elementary school
and that I had a public library within walking distance of my elementary
school. I grew up reading books and loving books for all the ideas that
they gave me and all the stories that they told me and all the enjoyment
that they afforded me. And my parents and my grandfather (my grandmother
died when I was four) really encouraged me to learn and to read and to
strive for something greater than what they had. To them, education provided
the means and libraries and books held the key. So, early on, I became
an avid reader and an eager student.
My first year in school, I think I checked out every biography in the
Annie R. Morgan Elementary School library. I read about Thomas Jefferson
and George Washington and George Washington Carver. More importantly, I
learned that books record what we've learned and provide a blueprint for
what we still need to learn. They illuminate, elucidate, educate, and entertain.
They enrich our souls and build our brains. They remind us of what we've
been and of what we have the capacity to be.
I've always been around books and have always surrounded myself with books.
What could be more natural than for me to work in a library as a librarian?
While this isn't rocket science and it's not as important, perhaps, as
medicine, it strikes me as a most important field. What's really interesting
about libraries and books is that one of the first things to come under
attack in a despotic regime is information and access to information. National
libraries have been destroyed when conquerors made inroads into other nations.
to burn the past and create his own version of history. Communist and
totalitarian regimes restrict the flow of information and attempt to erase
all traces of the past except for what they want their constituents to
know. So information must be crucial and access to accurate information
must be vital.
This is why libraries.
While the Internet provides nearly universal
access to information, it still does not provide access to all the information
that is stored in the world's libraries. Google is trying to remedy this
with their Books project, but there is still so much information in libraries
that will not be universally available for many, many years. And as the
Internet becomes more and more universal, more and more governments will
limit their citizens' access to it. And if everything electronic crashes,
libraries will still safeguard the information that we have been able to
gather so far.
While we all love our fast Internet connections and our televisions and
our CDs and our radios, if all our new technology ever should fail us,
we still have the technology that has seen us through many centuries past
and will see us through many centuries forward.
Heaven help us if we ever lose