Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

January 18, 2013

Lindsay's column: 01.18.13 >>Book-less libraries

By Lindsay Eckert
[friday] editor/ Partial to paper

— A winter retreat through my childhood was within the stories of souls and sweet escapes. These live on pages seen by countless pairs of eyes before my own. It was the destination on rainy days, snow days and days to learn about leaders’ legacies. So, as the calendar makes its way closer to Martin Luther King Jr. Day - a day my mom would take me to the only library open (in Middletown) to read about a world I only knew about through books - it struck me by surprise to learn in 2013 kids in Bexar County, Texas will soon walk into a book-less library.

This fall, the nation will meet its first technology-only library, where readers won’t be able to meet a book with its own story - you know, the ones full of penciled notes, stained pages and the sound of a weakly-bound book settling into the hands of its temporary owner.

Although I understand the importance of shaking hands and becoming more familiar with technology, I don’t believe we should turn our backs on the pages packaged into tales bounded by the cover of a book. Every library book I’ve ever met had a story itself; it was a home of learning for someone, it inspired a destination drawn by one’s own imagination and it was touched by every mind who read it. Library books help us connect to worlds we’ve never known, but library books also connect us. They connect us to the readers of a different era, the generations before us who held the exact same cover in their hands before our fingers grazed it while browsing a shelf - prior to our decision to take it home too.

For centuries, readers have sought refuge, retreat and a land of wonder from the pages we get to share at our local libraries. Charles W. Eliot, who served as Harvard University’s president in the early 1900s, uttered words that still strike a chord of gratitude for the page-turning contentment found only in the physical holding of a book’s pages.

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends: they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.”

According to ABC News, the BiblioTech, will be the 4,989 square-foot home to e-readers, computer stations, laptops and tablets; however, the counselors and teachers found only in the binding of a book will be extinct on the technology-lined shelves, where people can check out a technological gadget or load an e-book on their on device.

It’s a concept of a new, revolutionary response to technology’s evolution from introducing itself into our lives to becoming a reliance in our lives. The digital age deserves respect, but the pages where characters live, the sentences where stories unfold and the covers that start the mind’s momentum of imagination deserve our hearts.

A huge thank you to the local libraries, such as Kokomo Howard County Public Library, that are helping educate the older generation about technology while keeping the next generation engaged with the real and original page-turners.