READ – IMAGINE – UNDERSTAND – PARTICIPATE – INNOVATE
Today, I revisited an article I read four years ago by Neil Gaiman. I found his message just as relevant today as it was four years ago. If you’re wondering about the future of democracy, innovation, and the relevancy of libraries, librarians, and books in our post-modern world, I’ve outlined a few key points from his article below.
1) Reading fiction, READING for PLEASURE is one of the most important things we can do…Gaiman argues that “fiction” in any form is the “gateway drug” to read. We LEARN when reading for pleasure and our IMAGINATIONS are unleashed.
2) Reading fiction helps build empathy.
3) Reading fantasy and science fiction actually, lead to innovative thinking…Did you know that top innovators in the US who work for Google, Apple and Microsoft all read science fiction as children? Did you know that in 2007 China stopped bans on fantasy and science fiction books hoping to unleash more creative, innovative minds?
4) Libraries are the gateway to the future! And librarians are the gatekeepers. So…what’s the role of libraries? “Freedom to read, freedom of ideas, freedom of communication.” I believe all of these are freedoms essential to a functioning democracy. Libraries are NOT just warehouses full of books anymore…They are about education, entertainment, safe spaces, community spaces, play, safe havens and access to a plethora of information (all types and formats)!
In Defense of Print Books – Read this analogy!
Douglas Adams compared print books to sharks…”Sharks are old: there were sharks in the ocean before the dinosaurs. And the reason there are still sharks around is that sharks are better at being sharks than anything else is. Physical books are tough, hard to destroy, bath-resistant, solar-operated, feel good in your hand: they are good at being books, and there will always be a place for them”
The Value of Libraries and Reading Revisited
When advocating for libraries and bemoaning their closure in a democratic society, Gaiman states, “If you do not value libraries then you do not value information or culture or wisdom. You are silencing the voices of the past and you are damaging the future.”
Albert Einstein understood the value of reading too and when Albert Einstein was asked once how we could make our children intelligent. His reply was both simple and wise. “If you want your children to be intelligent,” he said, “read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”