When our genes could not store all the information necessary for survival, we slowly invented them. But then the time came perhaps ten thousand years ago, when we needed to know more than could conveniently be contained in brains. So we learned to stockpile enourmos quantities of information outside our bodies. We are the only species on the planet, so far as we know, to have invented communal memory stored in neither in our genes nor in our brains. The warehouse of that memory is called library.
A book is made from a tree. It is an assemblage of flat, flexible parts (still called "leaves") imprinted with dark pigmented squiggles. One glance at it and you hear the voice of another person--perhaps someone dead for thousands of years. Across the millenia, the author is speaking, clearly and silently, inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people, citizens of distant epochs, who never knew one another. Books break the shackles of time, proof that humans can work magic. ...
... If there were no books, no written records, think how prodigious a time twenty-three centuries would be. With four generations per century, twenty-three centuries occupies almost a hundred generations of human beings. If information could be passed on merely by word of mouth, how little we should know of our past, how slow would be our progress! ... Past information might be revered, but in successive retellings it would become progressively more muddled and eventually lost. Books permit us voyage through time, to tap the wisdom of our ancestors. The library connects us with the insights and knowledge, painfully extracted from Nature, of the greatest minds that ever were, with the best teachers, drawn from the entire planet and from all of our history, to instruct us without tiring, and to inspire us to make our own contribution to the collective knowledge of the human species. Public libraries depend on voluntary contributions. I think the health of our civilization, the depth of our awareness about the underpinnings of our culture and our concern for the future can all be tested by how well we support our libraries.
(Carl Sagan, Cosmos, p. 232 - 233)
That is really well said Dr. Carl Sagan. Well said. By the way, I'm doing my own voyage by reading your book now. I'm back to 1980 when Cosmos was first printed. And I can't stop wondering where the hell I've been that I never read your books before?