Several days ago, I mentioned an inspiration attributed to The Librarian of Auschwitz, by Antonio Iturbe and Lilit Thwaites. As I continue to read this remarkable book, I find many concepts and phrases that are worth remembering. One of them refers to the time before Nazi tyranny, “…when words rang out more loudly than machine guns.”
The reference is to libraries and their vast richness for all who choose to indulge themselves in them. If you’ve read my earlier blogs, you know that I have a sincere reverence for libraries and worry about their decreasing popularity. My last several weeks have included a trip to the local library. As always, I am enriched by the experience.
Leaving our last home, I contributed many cartons of books to the library, both to add to their collection and make some available for purchase by the locals. In spite of that sacrifice, I consult my personal library every day. It’s a remind of where I’ve been and what I’ve learned. In spite of the ease of acquiring e-books, I find myself frequently buying paperbacks, primarily for the ability to return to selected lines or phrases without electronic processes.
Does this mean that I am an antique? Can it be that ultimately all volumes will be digitized and we will no longer have my cherished volumes? My best guess is that it can’t be avoided but that I probably won’t live long enough to see the mass digitization occur.
But the sensitivity of those living through the Holocaust persists with me. In addition to losing security, food, clothing, political freedom and the certainty of being surrounded by loved ones, I am touched by the despair over losing the printed word.
There’s no way to measure what loss is the greatest and I have been blessed with the conditions that have excluded oppression and terrorism. The historian and educator in me shudder at the loss of information availability, making it crucial that I do everything in my power to guarantee free, scholarly thinking. Shalom.