In the Guardian on Saturday 6th February – National Libraries Day 2016 – Jake Arnott referenced Stephen Hawking in a short piece about the fundamental importance of Libraries.  (He also expressed the fear that National Libraries Day would turn into National Libraries Memorial Day.  Friends of Marsden Library is certainly against memorialising Libraries).  Jake’s piece makes the pro Library point so well, I thought I’d share it with you.  Here it is:

In the Reith Lecture this week Professor Stephen Hawking discussed the paradox that it is not just matter and energy that can be consumed by a black hole but information itself. The loss of this information causes uncertainty in the future of the universe and in its history, too.  He posits a model in which information could be preserved, though not in a useful form:  “It is like burning an encyclopaedia: information is not lost if you keep all the smoke and the ashes, but it is difficult to read.” Now I know one is not supposed to use quantum physics as any kind of guide as to how we experience the world, but this image was just too apt.

Public libraries sustain litte municipal solar systems, with light and space, matter and information in their orbit. Allow them to collapse and what is left is not merely the lack of some benign force but a social black hole.

This is a public health issue. These places are communal memory systems that help stave off the social dementia that threatens our culture. …  Let’s keep fighting so that we might not lose a collective memory.

Jake Arnott, The Guardian, 6/2/2016

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