But although technology is vastly changing their roles, librarians are still seen as "trusted agents" and their role as navigators of the Internet will be critical to everyday life and the future economy.
You go into the restaurants of a town and you see people with hungry stomachs, but you go into the library of the same town and you will see hungry brains feasting upon their favorites. There are all too few libraries, and far too many restaurants. People should eat less and think more.
Throughout my formal education I spent many, many hours in public and school libraries. Libraries became courts of last resort, as it were. The current definitive answer to almost any question can be found within the four walls of most libraries.
I received the fundamentals of my education in school, but that was not enough. My real education, the superstructure, the details, the true architecture, I got out of the public library. For an impoverished child whose family could not afford to buy books, the library was the over door to wonder and achievement, and I can never be sufficiently grateful that I had the wit to charge through that door and make the most of it.
Consider what you have in the smallest chosen library. A company of the wisest and wittiest men that could be picked out of all civil countries, in a thousand years, have set in best order the results of their learning and wisdom. The men themselves were hid and inaccessible, solitary, impatient of interruption, fenced by etiquette; but the thought which they did not uncover to their bosom friend is here written out in transparent words to us, the strangers of another age.
The challenge now is for public libraries – particularly in low-income communities – to stay connected. Libraries need support to maintain quality technology services so they can effectively serve the millions who count on them for their only access to computers and the internet.
I have always believed that libraries are the most civilized places in our world, the most generous and democratic, the least judgmental, belonging to no one and everyone, doing the noble work of at once preserving and circulating the ideas and expressions of mankind.
No possession can surpass, or even equal, a good library to the lover of books. Here are treasured up for his daily use and delectation, riches which increase by being consumed, and pleasures which never cloy.
Libraries are one of the only face-to-face services left where kids can come with no appointment and get professional services from someone with a master's degree who assigns no grades, makes no judgments. It's the greatest democratic institution ever created.
The library connects us with the insight and knowledge, painfully extracted from Nature, of the greatest minds that ever were, with the best teachers, drawn from the entire planet and all our history, to instruct us without tiring, and to inspire us to make our own contribution to the collective knowledge of the human species. I think the health of our civilization, the depth of our awareness about the underpinnings of our culture and our concern for the future can all be tested by how well we support our libraries.
A keeper of books:
I've traveled the world twice over,
Met the famous; saints and sinners,
Poets and artists, kings and queens,
Old stars and hopeful beginners,
I've been where no-one's been before,
Learned secrets from writers and cooks.
To read a book for the first time is to make an acquaintance with a new friend; to read it for a second time is to meet an old one.