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Libraries: permanence and memory

I often read about libraries in my professional and Friends-related work, and recently came upon this delightful and touching interview with Susan Orlean about how libraries fit in to her life and to her most recent book.

I recently visited libraries in Colombia, and learned about programs at public libraries to preserve memory. These programs were spread out amongst libraries nationwide with the primary goal of holding on to something--memories of the difficult and the good--that becomes so fleeting, especially after a long period of a war with such damaging aftershocks.

In Orleans case, her need to preserve memory was an individual endeavor, that of time spent with her mother, as her own memory succumbed to dementia. It was Orlean's description of how libraries fit into the preservation that was so poignant.

I couldn't help but also turn my thoughts to the structural: the permanence of buildings, that we often expect and possibly take for granted. Until recently, I'd never considered having fewer libraries in Oakland. If anything, I would probably say that building more would be easier to imagine. This is not the world we live in, and that's why the Friends of the Rockridge Library and all of the other Friends groups across the nation exist: to ensure that libraries remain open, and free. To everyone.

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