Friday, August 7, 2009

In Dread of the Sauron Searchlight Gaze of Administrators?

One more post before I take off for a vacation. An article in today’s Chronicle, “A Laboratory of Collaborative Learning,” highlights the continuing value of academic libraries:

it is worth recognizing that a library is not just a warehouse for books; it is a physical representation of a set of cultural values that have accumulated over thousands of years. Libraries salvaged and preserved Western civilization; they have been a hub for intellectual exchange, a ladder of social mobility, and a promise of continuity from one generation to the next. It is not mere courtesy that causes people to become silent in the library, as they do in a church: Libraries are sacred places. That reverence for learning embodied in a physical space is not something we should squander lightly …

Here is my favorite point:

I want to argue (though not in this column) that hands-on, archival research—the cultivation of traditional scholarly sensibilities—should be at the center of the undergraduate liberal-arts experience.