Two hundred twelve years ago this month, and 6 months before the actual founding of Middlebury College, 34 shares of stock were sold at $25 per share in order to purchase the initial collection of books for the Middlebury College library. Here is a scan of the 1st page of the constitution of the College library, from the original held in Middlebury College’s Special Collections and Archives.Although as a librarian I’m obviously biased, I believe that, in a society in which nearly everything has become commoditized, libraries represent certain “higher” ideals. They remind us that there is such as thing as the “public (or community) good,” and that ideas, knowledge, learning, and even pleasure should not necessarily be parceled out depending upon one’s ability to pay, but rather should be accessible to anyone and everyone with the desire and curiosity to learn new things, to explore new ideas, and to wallow in art.
I hope this week you will take some time out to support your favorite library, whether it’s your hometown public library, Ilsley Public Library in downtown Middlebury, Armstrong LIbrary in BiHall, Davison Library up at Bread Loaf, Coleman Library across the continent in Monterey, or, of course, Davis Family Library here at Middlebury College. So give us a shout in the comment box if you love libraries!