Sometime I will read books on a Kindle or tablet, but not today. I still prefer the paper versions. I like the feel of the paper, the sound of turning the pages and the character an individual book can achieve, i.e. the place you spilled the coffee or the scribbled note in the margin in maybe describing an idea you may no longer understand in handwriting you cannot decipher, even though you know that it is your own.
So it was great to visit the library of Guita & José Mindlin at USP in São Paulo. The Mindlins collected books for eighty years. José described his approach as undisciplined. He bought what he liked. But over those eighty years certain patterns became apparent. He liked books about Brazil, travel books especially that described Brazil in the past.
The Mindlins began their library in their home in the Brooklin neighborhood of São Paulo. They always believed in sharing their books and scholars could come to visit. When they died, they willed most of their books to the University of São Paulo (USP) on condition that the public be invited in. They built a whole building just for the library and the collection is being digitized so that it is available to a much wider public.
With digitalization, I guess I am back to my first paragraph. Digitalization is a great thing. It will preserve knowledge by making sure it is duplicated and distributed. A single library may be destroyed; books may decay. Of course, will digitalization go on forever? After all, lots of the digital media of earlier years is inaccessible. I still like the paper books, leather binding is nice.
Interesting article related from “The Economist” here.