Let’s appreciate our American libraries. They have played a critical role in shaping our nation. They have served Americans in large cities and small towns. Libraries are an important part of schools, colleges, and public and private institutions. Libraries have provided venues for study and social activity. They are among the first public institutions to help immigrants learn a new language, acquire knowledge of the law, and appreciate national history in the course of obtaining United States citizenship.
Libraries are collections of books arranged for the purpose of study, review, and safekeeping. Libraries have progressed with the development of civilization and have promoted learning. Ancient Assyria had libraries consisting of baked clay tablets and cuneiform writing. A large library there had about 20,000 tablets. A famous library was founded in Alexandria, Egypt. That was before printed books as we know them today. The library contained hand-written scrolls of papyrus. The ancient Romans loved literature, science, philosophy, religion, and history. They continued to write, publish, collect, and store these subjects in libraries. During the Middle Ages, books were hand-written on parchment and bound together. They took months to copy by hand and were expensive.
Medieval libraries chained books to shelves because they were so scarce and expensive. Only wealthy nobles and scholars had access to books. (Fewer people then knew how to read.)
With the invention of the printing press, thousands of printed books became available to people. They were more accessible and less expensive. Our modern libraries have made classical and currently published books widely accessible, free of charge, with little work to every reader. Modern libraries have good lighting, numbered books, computerized filing systems, comfortable chairs and useful tables, and technological tools. Books may be borrowed and taken home. Libraries also have newspapers and magazines and other media (photos, paintings, artifacts, recordings, films, etc.) Professional librarians are on hand to help.
The Vatican Library is one of the world’s oldest libraries, and the United States Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., is one of the world’s largest. Their histories are remarkable. Copyright assures legal protection to authors. Libraries in our cities and towns are rich in local history. Libraries serve children and adults. In our libraries we can learn wonderful and empowering things. Please consider supporting the regional or local library.
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