“Disregard for the past will never do us any good. Without it we cannot know truly who we are.” This saying holds true because if nothing is done to record the events and tragedies of our ancestors’ past lives, mankind will never truly evolve as a species. We will just be in a constant cycle of living and dying without making any true progress or accomplishments as a species. Unfortunately, with all the different events that occur in a generation’s timeline, it will be difficult to remember every single detail in history. One solution to this dilemma was the creation of libraries, where people can externalize their memories and store it into a single location.
The creation and use of libraries has been a practice since ancient times, dating back to about 600 BCE. The first systematically organized library that was discovered was in Nineveh, which is known as the Royal Library of Ashurbanipal. The owner of this library was King Ashurbanipal, who was the ruler of the Neo-Assyrian Empire at the time. It was reported that over 30000 cuneiform clay tablets were discovered. The library was said to be have organized by subject, which included history, poetry, government science and much more. In the picture below, one tablet that was discovered was part of the Epic of Gilgamesh.
But as time passed, people noticed the importance of libraries and realized that they were necessary to collect information of externalize memories into pieces to be stored. Because tablets took up a lot of room, people needed a new form to better manage and store collections, instead of carving it into a stone or clay tablet. That’s when humans found a new form or writing, which was to write things down in papyrus plants. These plants were the paper of the olden days, where they were lighter, durable, and easier to manage then tablets. This new innovation was one of the next stepping stones to the modern libraries of today because it introduced people to paper and scrolls, which would later lead to books.
As centuries have passed, humans have made technological breakthroughs and discoveries that have lead to massive changes in the practices that have been around for centuries. One of these changes has been the use of libraries and the storing of information into libraries. Advancements, such as the internet and computer, have made libraries more easier to use because now you can search through millions of documents and records in a matter of seconds to narrow down searches. One of the most famous modern libraries is the Library of Congress.
The Library of Congress is one of the most famous libraries of the twenty-first century and the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. It has an estimated 161 million physical pieces in its collection in 470 languages. Many of these books, pieces, articles, etc, can be found in databases and archives online in the library. This rapid progression in technological advances has lead more digitalized era, where mostly everything can be found online. Externalizing memories has never been made easier, as now people can upload information directly to the internet in a matter of seconds. And as techno0logy keeps on evolving, it’s only a matter of time before libraries get rid of book and paper all together and turn to the digital world.