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But the problem that libraries face today isn’t irrelevance. Indeed, in New York and many other cities, library circulation, program attendance and average hours spent visiting are up. The real problem that libraries face is that so many people are using them, and for such a wide variety of purposes, that library systems and their employees are overwhelmed.
In my rare calm moments as a curator (when I’m not sending a hundred emails or moving a hundred chairs), I often reflect that the literary world should make greater efforts to reach teenagers, and more high schools should promote contemporary literature by living authors. How else will we build the next generation of literary readers?
Writers need young people. Sigrid Nunez agreed.
Anderson, from the beginning, wanted people to have access to the complete collection, and wanted much of it digitized and made available online. So she and Fleming reached out to the performing-arts library, which has extensive music collections and artists’ archives. “We were really impressed with the performing-arts people,” Anderson said.
From Lou Reed’s Archive, Coming to the New York Public Library | The New Yorker
It’s true that tape doesn’t offer the fast access speeds of hard disks or semiconductor memories. Still, the medium’s advantages are many. To begin with, tape storage is more energy efficient: Once all the data has been recorded, a tape cartridge simply sits quietly in a slot in a robotic library and doesn’t consume any power at all. Tape is also exceedingly reliable, with error rates that are four to five orders of magnitude lower than those of hard drives.
Why is it zero-sum, though? Surely it’s good to be able to skim when needed. Why does one take away from the other?
This is a question that requires a very careful attempt at explanation. It’s not zero-sum, but we have grown used to skimming.
This, in an elliptical way, is what Noah was getting at. How do things stick to us in a culture where information and ideas are up so quickly that we have no time to assess one before another takes its place? How does reading maintain its hold on our imagination, or is that question even worth asking anymore? Noah may not be a reader, but he is hardly immune to the charms of a lovely sentence; a few weeks after our conversation at the dinner table, he told me he had finished The Great Gatsby and that the last few chapters had featured the most beautiful writing he’d ever read.
The fact that these big questions still inform the social implications of science in the 21st century is a key reason that the popularity of Mary Shelley’s story has only grown over time. Since its first publication, the book has never been out of print. Stage productions of the story followed as early as 1822. In the 20th century dozens of films told and retold the Frankenstein story.