While pursuing my doctoral degree, I have begun to reflect a lot on some basic things. What is information? Why does it seem that information is a living, breathing entity? Information is an entity that will find a way to be free, no matter how long it takes or what it has to go through. But the power of information I will leave for another post.
Today I spent time reflecting on libraries. What is a library? What is the library’s ultimate purpose? If a hospital cures illness, a school cures ignorance, a church cures the soul, then what do libraries cure?
I have come to believe that the answer to that question is never discussed in library school? We do not mention this in our literature. We don’t even talk about it amongst ourselves. Not all will agree with my answer, but give it some thought. Libraries cure loneliness. And as Mother Teresa once said, “Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty.”
Stop and think about all those patrons who just seem like that want to talk. What about the patrons who come in day-after-day without ever saying a word to anyone? Why do they come to the library? Our patrons come to the library to connect to the world. They come to feel less alone.
Maybe our contribution is more than just saving the culture of mankind. Maybe our contribution is to make the world a less lonely place, and that is no small contribution.
7 responses to “On Loneliness”
I read this to my supervisor. We both absolutely love this. It’s profound and touching.
There is something about the way that you describe feelings and “library as place” here that reminds me of the “the action of knowledge creation” and the importance of “library places” as contextual factors for the experiences that our patron have.
Im uncertain if the connotations of unwantedness are congruent with my experiences, but I appreciate that you shared this. Thanks.
Thanks Adam! See you next week.
Not all institutions cure things, think prisons, they don’t cure crime. But I like thinking about why there are libraries. I hope libraries cure ignorance.
Thanks Tom! I would actually disagree with you slightly. I would argue that prisons cure criminals (rehabilitation) and/or address the anxiety of the general public by helping them feel safer.
I think the prisons curing criminals through rehabilitation is debatable, but I agree they definitely cure or address public anxiety. If any library was to cure loneliness it would have to be the prison library.