Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Lest we forget the purpose of paper

I spent the day weeding the LRC library. The library moved from a much larger space to its current location. Space considerations as well as a need to move to online resources to serve its multiple locations requires some ruthless weeding. Not all that different than the issues most U.S. law libraries are addressing. 

I hauled shelf after shelf (15+ years) of South African Government Gazettes to the dumpster. The resource, think of it as a combination of our Code of Federal Regulation, United States Code, Federal Register, and other general government notices, is now online in full text. 

Despite today's fanatical pitching of paper, this photograph served to remind me of the purpose of the printed word. I am of the age where I turned to print on paper for education, inspiration, and encouragement. The printed word, whether fiction, non-fiction, or textbook, are intertwined with the hopes, dreams, accomplishments, and disappointments of my life.  

This sculpture is in the Anthropologie in Chelsea Market, New York City. The number of tourists and shoppers that stopped to look and to comment, even if for just a moment, is evidence of the power of the printed word to evoke emotions and thoughts.  

Anthropologie, Chelsea Market, NYC, NY 2013

My suitcase for this adventure weighed in at 59 pounds, likely because of the books in it. Despite all the technology in my briefcase (iPad, smartphone, and laptop), I carried six books in print and it was well worth the $75 baggage fee: 

  • The Accidental Masterpiece: On the Art of Life and Vice Versa, Michael Kimmelman
  • Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela
  • Human Rights at the Crossroads
  • Law Firm Librarianship, Issues, practice, and direction, John Azzolini
  • Effective Knowledge Management for Law Firms, Matthew Parsons
  • The Lonely Planet Guide to South Africa 

I carried these works in print simply because at the of a day spent at a keyboard, I prefer to regenerate by curling up in a chair with paper. I've always admired and envied those that could assemble words to form a poem, an essay, a story or a novel. That admiration and envy for those who can challenge, educate, inspire, motivate, and encourage with words will not change even when I evolve to read it on a screen.  


  1. amazing journey. The stories you will have when you return! Enjoy it all, Travel safe!