Friday, July 25, 2008

The place of remembering

The library is always in an interesting place. It must be forward thinking, even as it must preserve the past, keeping it present for the next generation. This is a blessing or a curse, depending on how you look at it.

I realized this while listening to A. telling Tamera about the move to make Holocaust-denial illegal. It's hard to imagine that people would refuse to admit the Holocaust, but the more years that separate us from that cruel event, the more distant it becomes, relegated to books, photographs, documents, for more and more survivors are passing away, their memories locked away beyond death.

Yet those materials, however pale in comparison to the memories of survivors, are taking the place of those memories, taking over the task of remembering. And where are these materials of remembering usually housed? At libraries (and archives, museums, personal collections), so one sees the unique role libraries have in society. I never thought about how critical that role was until I heard the story of Holocaust-denial.

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