Imagine a world without books!
This thought had never occurred to me until the day I visited Blickling Estate, a National Trust property in Aylsham, Norfolk.
Along with my husband in June this year, we visited this breath-taking Jacobean mansion that this year is all about my favourite subject. BOOKS.
The library on the estate contains over 12,000 volumes, it is the most prestigious book collection held by the National Trust. As part of the trusts New Art programme, this significant collection of books is being brought into the spotlight as a means of highlighting the threats posed to books and the written word in 2018.
I must confess that as I walked around the estate and viewed the seven installations, each with their own story linked to the theme of books under threat; I was saddened. The installations created by Theatre Company Les Enfants Terribles as a piece of contemporary art are so powerful in the message they send, that I was blown away.
Allow me to give you an example.
In the installation named, THE WORD SUPERSEDED, there is a huge cabinet which is hanging open with swathes of charts and maps spilling out onto the floor. This highlights the transition from paper maps and charts to online and satellite GPS-based services that can be updated remotely.
Below is an image of the installation in the Long Gallery Library. This represents books defiant in the face of threat.
( Please note, all the books you see were rescued from being recycled.)
The installation that affected me the most, was not related to the loss of manuscripts but the redaction of words. THE WORD REDACTED is a simple yet powerful installation about the way that the U.S Department of Defence bought and destroyed the entire print run of 9,500 copies of the book ‘Operation Dark Heart’. The memoirs of U.S Army Lt Colonel Anthony Shaffer during his five-month tour in Afghanistan. Eventually, the Pentagon agreed to a second print run subject to 433 redactions. How about that for distorting the truth?
Are we moving to an age where books will be replaced by the digital version? I understand the need for progress, I have my own Kindle that I find invaluable at times. However, imagine a world without books, a world without music and art. Imagine a world without our magnificent Libraries? The London Library founded in the year 1941 is the UK’s leading literary institution and long may it last.
Does anyone else feel the need to check out the local library when visiting a new location or is that just me? I can’t help but feel curious about libraries. Big and small, they all hold my interest. I love to see parents with their small children in the children’s section and often have an overwhelming desire to shake their hand and say ‘I’m proud of you’. The library is an institution in its own right, bringing together people of all ages and from all walks of life. I would hate to see this fine institution become obsolete as we move forward into the digital age.