Wednesday, April 21, 2010

monument to learning

In light of the recent chaos and financial distress in our library system here in Charlotte, what a lift it was to tour the University of Virginia two weeks ago where libraries are revered, exalted and regarded as a priceless measure of humanity. I think there are 17 of them in all, dotted throughout campus, each one a jewel in its own right. But it's the first, anchoring one end of the famous Lawn, that sets the tone. It was built in the 1800s as the architectural and academic focal point of the university, and replicates Thomas Jefferson's Monticello home, which you can actually glimpse in the distance while standing in the bookstore courtyard. According to our guide, the UVA book collection is second only to the Library of Congress in number of volumes held. People usually talk quietly inside a library and that day was no exception. It was so affirming, though, to be at a place where they talked in hushed tones about them as well.

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