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A recent article in Forbes stated that local libraries should close and be replaced with Amazon. Written by an economics professor, the author suggested that libraries are obsolete because of technology. The piece has since been removed from Forbes’ website, but it’s heartening to see that people stood up and said, “NO!” to this idea.1
Public libraries exist around the world, and they are valued resources for the people who live around them. Modern libraries have evolved from the libraries of old, and libraries have an incredible and vibrant history.
People didn’t formally differentiate between libraries and archives (or record rooms) in the old days. Clay tablets have been found dating back to the 3rd millennium BC written by ancient Babylonians. Unfortunately, many collections were destroyed in wars or during turbulent political times. Chinese historical records were ordered to be destroyed by emperor Shih Huang-ti, so his version of history would be remembered.
Many Greek temples accumulated written records and books, with Athens being a stronghold for schools of thought and philosophy, dating back to the 4th century BC. Aristotle’s collection at the Peripatetic school was organised with the intent to be a source of scientific knowledge.
Perhaps the most famous of all the libraries in history is the great library in Alexandria. Supposedly it contained hundreds of thousands of scrolls and original works, but the collection was lost. History blames Julius Caesar and his men.2
Libraries have long fueled the fires of innovation and creativity. Curious minds of all ages can visit a library to seek answers--and more questions! Modern libraries offer more than books, however.
To build up a library is to create a life. It’s never just a random collection of books.
Carlos María Domínguez
An innovative brain is a creative brain, and both are required to be an authentic, effective leader. People tend to learn and recall new information better when they are curious about it. Libraries give people the chance to discover new thoughts and new ideas, even those with extremely limited means.
When curiosity is aroused, the limbic reward system hops into action. This process has been shown using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) with a memory test on volunteers. The hippocampus, which helps us create memories, is part of the limbic system. Scientists found increased activity in the hippocampus using fMRI when the volunteers experienced heightened curiosity.7
Just as libraries contain millions of stories, both fiction and non-fiction, your leadership journey is also a tale. You can seize the opportunity to enrich your own story with innovation and curiosity by reflecting on aspects of your leadership story. Leaders who invest in libraries as important public resources will continue to protect access for all, but especially for those less fortunate.
1. Ingraham C. Economics professor suggested replacing public libraries with Amazon. It didn’t go over well. Chicago Tribune. 24 July 2018. Available at: http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-biz-forbes-amazon-libraries-20180724-story.html#
2.Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica. The History of Libraries. Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc. 2018. Available at: https://www.britannica.com/topic/library/The-history-of-libraries
3. Australian Public Library Alliance. Public Library. Australian Library and Information Association. 2018. Available at: https://www.alia.org.au/node/184/public-libraries
4. Pacheco FH, Escamilla DQ. Human resources in Mexican public libraries: An exploratory inquiry. Investigación Bibliotecológica: Archivonomía, Bibliotecología e Información. 2016;20(68), 17-50.
5. Joseph. The Current State of Libraries in Mexico: Service, Connectivity and Culture. Careerlibrarian.com. 17 June 2012. Available at: http://careerlibrarian.com/lis-blog/the-current-state-of-libraries-in-mexico-service-connectivity-and-culture
6. Lawson RB. The Role of the Public Library in Today’s World. I/S: A Journal of Law and Policy for the Information Society. 2016;13(1), 29-45. Available at: http://moritzlaw.osu.edu/students/groups/is/files/2017/08/Lawson.pdf
7. Gruber MJ, Gelman BD, Ranganath C. States of Curiosity Modulate Hippocampus-Dependent Learning via the Dopaminergic Circuit. Neuron. 2014;84(2), 486-496.
Founder & CEO
About my Brain Institute
Scientist, educator, author, speaker, coach, award-winning leadership specialist, filmmaker and creator of the i4 Neuroleader Model & Methodology.
Silvia's scientific background and curiosity about the human brain led her to a decade long journey of research into optimal brain functioning and the application of neuroscience in leadership and daily life. Her past and current roles have uniquely prepared her for the current undertaking, that of leadership activist & change agent.
Silvia Damiano founded The About my Brain Institute in 2009, with the purpose of democratising leadership & neuroscience. She has a passionately held belief, that leaders in our 21st century global economy and their organisations must radically change long-held ideas of what constitutes effective leadership
In her ground-breaking books ‘Leadership is Upside Down’, ‘Brain-Friendly Leadership’ and the 2018 documentary ‘Make Me A Leader’, Silvia provides both compelling evidence and explores the importance of leadership in our personal and professional lives and what it takes to develop the human behind the leader.
Silvia has worked in different countries, across many industries, helping teams and organisations improve business performance. Silvia’s clients have described her as a passionate, dynamic, a highly experienced speaker and master facilitator on the topics of Emotional Intelligence, Cultural Change, Neuroleadership & Engagement.
Silvia is passionate about leaving a legacy of well-rounded leaders who can act and decide in a way that better serves humanity. Her clients include Microsoft, Australian Stock Exchange, NSW Government, VISA, Fuji Xerox and Manpower amongst many other global companies.