Multigrain Discussion: Ray Bradbury and the Lifelong Love of Libraries

by | Jun 8, 2012 | 0 comments

With the recent loss of the great science fiction writer Ray Bradbury, we’ve been seeing number of quotes attributed him in the media.  However, one in particular jumped out at us.

“I am a librarian. I discovered me in the library. I went to find me in the library. Before I fell in love with libraries, I was just a six-year-old boy. The library fueled all of my curiosities, from dinosaurs to ancient Egypt. When I graduated from high school in 1938, I began going to the library three nights a week. I did this every week for almost ten years and finally, in 1947, around the time I got married, I figured I was done. So I graduated from the library when I was twenty-seven. I discovered that the library is the real school.”  (“Ray Bradbury, The Art of Fiction No. 203” The Paris Review No. 192, Spring 2010)

Reading Bradbury’s words caused us to wonder.  In the rush to ebooks, apps, “big data”, the semantic web, and “everything digital” are today’s library leaders giving any thought to maintaining the type library experience that was such a formative part of Ray Bradbury’s life.  Is that sense of wonder and discovery that libraries brought to Bradbury (and many of the rest of us) still part of the equation? Do today’s library users experience it – especially in academic libraries?  If so, what does that experience look like in the 21st century library?   What elements in the modern library lead to the sense of personal discovery that was so real for Ray Bradbury?  On the other hand, if you can’t think of any, what’s gone wrong?  And is there anything we can do about it?  Can libraries recapture the attributes that made Ray Bradbury feel like a life long “librarian”?

We are very interested in your take on this.  It’s is important!  It could have a lot to do with whether libraries have a future.



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