Once upon a time there was a young man named Phillip who was blessed and cursed with the desire to bring knowledge together in one place so that other people could learn and grow in their own knowledge. Phillip employed scribes to copy from scrolls on to new papyrus scrolls and purchased scrolls from traders and academicians. He created reading rooms for patrons and rooms for social discourse and interaction. His collection grew to encompass more than 200,000 volumes. Scholars came to study at his bibliotheca and shared their own works with him. He was one of the first librarians and became a role model for those who came after him.
Down through the ages his model for accumulating, cataloging, storing, and sharing knowledge became the norm for those who shared his passion for literacy and learning. As centuries passed, more young men and women were trained to be keepers of books and other items deemed to be significant and worthy of study.
Libraries and librarians survived the rise and fall of the Greek and Roman Empires, the Dark Ages, the Crusades, Industrialism, World Wars, nuclear bombs, and they still exist into the 21st century.
The computerized world has wrought the greatest of all changes to the collection and sharing of knowledge. For those who truly share Phillip’s great desire to give more people access to the world’s storehouse of knowledge, the challenge has changed. We can no longer be satisfied as the knowledge gatherers, archivers, and catalogers. We must become those who can assist others in determining reliable internet sources of information. We must have a working knowledge of tools that allow patrons to synthesize and share their learning in meaningful ways. We must be creative and foster creativity; we must communicate and facilitate communication with others; we must collaborate and instill a collaborative spirit in students; we must think critically and expect and applaud critical thinking from those around us. If libraries are to continue to survive, we must make them places where discourse, interaction, and learning is nurtured.