When I first saw this cracked article about how we are in a current "trend" of book burning, I laughed out loud. Such a ridiculous notion. Then I read the article, this meandering, one-sided argument that "proves" perfectly good books are being tossed into the wind. Am I saying that it is completely wrong, does not make some good points, or that I do not know it is from a comedy website? No. But I do have six reasons I want to give all you non-library folks out there to stop you from marching down to your library and waving Fahrenheit 451 in the librarian's face.
1. Libraries must be weeded
Librarians have a process to keep their library useful called "collection developement." They have whole books on it. A major part of this process is called "weeding." As in your garden at home (the one in your yard, not the closet pot plant), bad things must be ripped up and thrown to the side to keep the whole thriving.
|Ironically, this can stay.|
2. Weeded books are making room for new items
|We only need one of you , Britannica.|
3. Books are not worth as much as you think they are
Objects are only worth what you can get someone to pay for them. Period. The idea of an item as "priceless" is only meaningful if you cannot reproduce said item. That goes for everything. Want proof? Buy an 1866 copy of Shakespeare for $70 right now. Books only have value if they cannot be reproduced or were a first of their kind.
|I said human skin, not bat.|
Yeah, that Necromicon bound in human skin might have value. Anything after the invention of movable type is reproduced pulp. Which leads me to..
4. Paper can rot.
The book might be one of the best inventions ever, but it is not perfect for one reason: paper. Organic material breaks down. Any archivist will tell you there are two ways to ensure old newspapers and books can be preserved: Keep them in moisture free, sterile environments or copy them onto materials that do not degrade as fast. The easiest method presently for copying materials is digitization.
After that the paper copy is null and void. Whole efforts are being made to digitization and provide this content free-ish, like Project Gutenberg. With the amount of blogs and internet articles being put out every day, books are already becoming a thing of the past, much like scrolls. If you are intent on saving every paper scrap either by shellacking them with clear varnish or scanning them into a computer, then you must remember that this costs. Which leads me to my next point.
5. Library's do not have the budget to waste on storing materials
I do not have to mention that our economy is in the toilet. Or at least in a slow spiral with libraries getting big chunks taken off.
|We won't be buying more than one copy of this.|
Cutting corners, either by buying less materials or implementing hiring freezes are the methods to stay in business. So when folks call for preservation, digitization, or just a big honking warehouse, they have to remember that all that costs cash. People, time and equipment do not grow on trees. So, yes, it is easier to throw out that old copy of The Da Vinci Code now that Dan Brown's candle has burned out than it is to put it in a warehouse like at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark.
6. There is public knowledge that libraries must weed
One of the Cracked article's points was that libraries keep their weeding activities secret. Bull-hockey. Libraries have to justify their budget and materials and most of the time it is a matter of public record to display just how much materials are discarded. Plus, basic logic will solve the problem. If you think libraries keep every book they have ever had, what the hell do you think they do with them all? Do you think library book sales just happen? I might take the image of the warehouse into account, but really?
|If you believe that, I got this ark to sell you.|
Think for a second, maybe a little physics problem. Mass times space times time. Over time the library gets more mass but often retains the same amount of space. Books do not just phase out of existence when people are not looking at them! Look around the nearest library. It can barely fit what it has. Libraries might not take out advertisements on when they discard books, but neither do grocery stores when they discard bread. I bet the bread goes to the same places as most library books. Cheapskates.
So here's what I have to say to the author of that Cracked article: do not use terms like "book burning" to get people to read your article. Yeah, we might be a society that can throw away books, but we do not throw away knowledge. The point of book burning is censorship, not disposing of sentimental trash.