Some might argue that a school without a dedicated library is like a pub with no beer – not fit for its designed purpose.
Yet, as Postman pointed out, we are far from the literate society of our forefathers. Our minds hollowed out by social media and the internet, we no longer have the attention spans to appreciate a three-hour speech by Lincoln.
There is no need for any future dystopian tyranny to burn books. As society’s appetite for the dense and the long form and the complex declines, so too does our appetite for the physical book. Yes, we still read. Yet we read on screen. We don’t immerse ourselves: we skim. Who knows how much of that information we actually retain, when our eyes are being continually drawn to new headlines and links?
Most of all, I feel sad for future generations that will not enjoy the rich and rewarding world of the physical book. They will miss the experience of tracking down hard-to-get tomes. Their breath will not catch in their throat at the idea of acquiring an early Jane Austen or the news that the new Hilary Mantel book is out next week.
They will be unable to run their fingers along the spines of a bookshelf painstaking acquired over decades. They will never open up a book to find a pressed flower within and recall lost love. They will not understand the sensual feel of paper or the unique smell of a room full of books.
Their eyes will continue to be strained by smartphones and iPads they are unable to simply put down at the end of the evening. A whole world of experience and ritual will be lost this way. If only someone would write a book about it all.