The David Lubin Library is a very important resource of FAO. The bluebar, the list of communicators of the Rome based UN agencies, asked for the possibility to visit the resource and Jessica Mathewson, very kindly, brought us around the facility.
There is always some doubts about dealing with libraries in a digital era. The point is “Are they still useful or do they loose their role?“. On the other side, being a fanatic of reading and books, you could expect me approaching the visit in a different way as libraries, by definition, should have a role. Maybe the point is that the role has to change.
I have to say that my original idea that libraries are very close to their end changed dramatically when I saw the caveau of the FAO Lubin. It is full of books and papers and documents. They have such an extraordinary collection put together.
The piece of the past collected there was so fascinating that my new answer is now: “No, we need to keep the libraries“. The point is that they could now be transformed in sort of “Museum” of books. And I don’t mean something old style. Something static or fixed…
I can think about something like the modern “Concept stores”. Not being anymore the privileged “channel” to access knowledge, as they were in the past, libraries can now become places where people can admire the books in their materiality. Places where to get in touch with them, have the pleasure to see ancient bricks of knowledge, without necessarily using or reading them.
Even if the way to access knowledge is changed, the books maintain all their fascination as very special objects. So why loose it?