I write this live from the Sterling Memorial Library at Yale university, the L and B Reading room. Over the long conferences weekend, I am visiting Yale with mom, who attended the school three and a half decades ago. She took me to a bunch of restaurants she used to go to and directed me around campus, pointing out the dorms where she used to live. But my favorite places by far that she showed me were the libraries, two in particular. One is called the Beinecke Library, a home for rare books. It’s a giant box of a building with marble windows––yes that’s right, the windows are thin sheets of marble. When you walk in there is a giant glass case filled with floors and floors of books in a climate controlled space. And in the area surrounding is a collection of rare medieval manuscripts dating back to the third century. Now I love books, but old books make me weak at the knees with joy. It’s just so much history packed into one place.
And where I’m sitting now is a place my mom would come to constantly to study, the Sterling Memorial Library. It has gorgeous gothic architecture, little marble statues, green leather chairs, and of course books everywhere. The books surrounding me are of all types and eras, from children’s books of today to Russian literature from the early 1900’s. It’s midterms season so there aren’t many students around, but I like the quiet.
Tangible books might be going out of fashion due to the blooming e-book and kindle markets, but I’ll always prefer the real thing. Especially old collectables, with gold painted pages and gorgeous covers. Nothing online could come close to the elegance of a hand-bound book. And finding many older writings online isn’t likely. So much about the past and many primary sources of events would be lost if people forgot about books. And the library environment is just so conducive to getting something done. Being surrounded by the words of such smart and dedicated people makes a person want to got to get off their butt and do something meaningful.
I think everyone should go to a local library or bookstore and pick out an actual book, and maybe even read it, just to appreciate the art of written text.