Shhh . . . in the Library
The British Library of Euston Road, London is next to King’s Cross and St Pancras International rail stations. It received the highest listed building status, and joins the top 2.5% of listed buildings in England. As per History of the British Library, the origins and foundations of this significant library which was established in 1753 started as a donation that was given to the library from the Royal book collection of King George III.
Libraries were in existence long before Britain was even called Britain. Over millennia they have embodied intellectual high point of a civilisation promoting the values, traditions and history that bind a people together. This fact is also well understood by conquerors who will typically attempt to destroy all forms of social cohesion that might spur resistance. Libraries and museums are prime targets for destruction for more than financial reasons.
There are many other lamentable examples, the Imperial library of Constantinople was destroyed by Christian crusaders, the House of Wisdom in Bagdad was destroyed by Mongol invaders and the Madrassah library in Cordoba was destroyed during the Christian reconquest of Spain. Oddly, there are more recent examples too, in 1548 CE, Glasney Library in Cornwall was destroyed in an attempt to suppress Cornish language and identity. These events, alas, continue.
Although books are cheaper than ever, however, they are not free and many people on lower incomes (often those on pensions) do rely on libraries. Where libraries have closed some local communities have found imaginative places to create tiny local libraries and informal book exchange is popular in all kinds of places. The internet is corruptible; books can last centuries and embody us. I do hope we can remember to use them and look at content rather than covers.
Meanwhile, I would like to invite all to Explore the British Library. and / or pay it a visit if you happen to be in the neighbourhood. According to Wikipedia, the British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and the largest library in the world by number of items catalogued. It also has a document storage centre and reading room near Boston Spa, 2.5 miles (4.0 km) east of Wetherby in West Yorkshire.