‘The Library Is One of the Few Civic Spaces We Have Left’

I have a dear friend who’s working at the library in Chattanooga, which is one of the rare states where the budget is increasing, and she’s doing all of this neat stuff with technology: bringing in 3-D printers, teaching web-use skills, all of these public services that are really necessary beyond making books available for people. I’m bullish on the need for libraries. I’m pessimistic about our ability as a society to come together and pay for their small sanctuary if our public services are under attack.

The library’s one of the few civic spaces we have left. People are feeling like there’s no other ways for these online platforms and services to be run, it’s our destiny to have them be privately run, and yet we invoke the analogy of the library or archive all the time. To me it says that we find it realistic that Google will be our archive when it’s an advertising company. We’ve seen them get rid of services that are not profitable (Google Reader), and we’ve seen them demote things like Google Scholar. That’s realism, where it’s unrealistic to think we’d build on the success of the library with a national repository for knowledge, arts, and culture?

Libraries exist and they’re open. Libraries exist with all these values we invoke in the digital sphere, but there are very few people thinking about how we might build upon them.

Writer and documentarian Astra Taylor, in Flavorwire, on the importance of collectively supporting and funding culture.

Read the interview

Photo: raypride, Flickr