There's a common misconception about libraries.
In brief, a lot of politicians seem to think that technology competes against
libraries -- and that libraries are losing.
This is something former Librarian of Congress Daniel Boorstin called the
"Displacive Fallacy." It's the idea that new technologies drive out old.
But the truth is, they often coexist quite comfortably. TV didn't kill radio.
DVDs didn't kill movies. Both radio and movies make far more money than they
About a year ago, I let myself get talked into running for office.
This wasn't a political thing, not really. I ran to represent a regional library network to a much larger international body called "OCLC Membership Council."
OCLC (Online Computer Library Center) is a non-profit organization that sells various technical products and services to libraries around the world. Its flagship product is something called WorldCat -- a database of the cataloged items of all its members. We're talking billions of records.
It is the oldest story in the world, a thousand years older than either the Iliad or the Bible. Its birthplace was the land we now call Iraq.
Its hero was the king of the Mesopotamian city of Uruk, back in 2750 B.C. The name of the king was Gilgamesh.
The discovery of this classic of world literature is almost as good as the story of Gilgamesh itself.
Let's start with the sheer passage of time. The "book" of Gilgamesh was missing for over 2000 years.
Sometimes librarians joke about the jargon we, like so many professions, fall into. We say, "Reader's Advisory," to describe the process through which we recommend books. But that phrase sounds like "weather advisory" -- a warning.
Well, this week, I'd like to offer some Reader's Advisory in both senses. Listed below are the "Ten Most Harmful Books of the 19th and 20th Centuries." I hasten to add that it wasn't me who came up with this. Rather, it was "Human Events: the National Conservative Weekly," published since 1944.