Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Dublin as Literary Mecca

On Sunday, I stumbled across this article in the Washington Post about Dublin's libraries. These aren't just any old libraries we're talking about. These places are like shrines to books and literature.

Here's some of what the article had to say:

We Dubliners take a lot of pride in our city’s reputation as a literary capital (not least because it lends our loquaciousness a certain gravitas, as if every quip were something more exalted than mere banter). Walk into any genuine pub in town, and you’re bound to see that famous poster of Irish literary heroes on the wall. It’s not idle boastfulness: Dublin can claim four Nobel laureates — George Bernard Shaw, W.B. Yeats, Samuel Beckett and Seamus Heaney. Moreover, the names Oscar Wilde, Brendan Behan, Flann O’Brien and of course James Joyce are synonymous with the town.

Mighty impressive, if you ask me.

So when literary-minded visitors to the Irish capital inquire about suitably bookish activities, there’s plenty to point them toward: literary walking tours, regular poetry and storytelling events, numerous literary festivals and a writers’ museum.

Literary type stuff, in other words. But, of course. :)

However, let's skip down to a rather ... interesting part.

Ascending the staircase to the Long Room requires an adjustment in scale, from the detail of the book to the huge space of the library in a few dozen steps. The Long Room is a breathtaking chamber, and entering it is like stepping into a vast cathedral for the worship of the printed word, with row upon row of book-filled alcoves stretching more than 200 feet before you and high up to the spectacular vaulted ceiling. Along each side stands a row of marble busts of great writers, starting with Shakespeare on one side and Homer on the other.

You see that part in bold with the underscored words? Does this suggest anything?

Could it be that print books have a permanence? Or, dare I say it, a value in and of themselves, related to history? Are print books as worthy of preservation as, say, the building in the above photo?

PS: Check out the photo with the article. Do you see any patrons using computer terminals?

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