Do libraries have a future?
Yes, said Roly Keating, Director of the British Library, speaking at the Hay Festival today.
Now some of us were sceptical at the start of his talk. Who needs an old fashioned library stuffed with books when you can Google anything you want to know?
An hour later he had persuaded us that the printed word and the need for custodians of our culture, institutions like the British Library, are vital in the future if we are to safeguard our heritage for future generations.
Look at the 1980s and 1990s, he said: “ These were the Digital Dark Ages, so much information has already been lost.”
The problem is that formats have become obsolete and will continue to do so. Only by investing in technology in institutions to conserve our artefacts, which now come as word, sound, images and moving images. Even Google is saying that if we want to preserve for the future then paper has stood the test of time for thousands of years, whereas digital formats are obsolete in less than a decade.
As for the mayhem of the Festival, lets not dwell on it too much. It’s a relief to get inside a tent.
The good news today is that the weather was bliss- sunshine all day.
Overheard at How The Light Gets In, the alternative Hay Festival devoted to music, ideas and philosophy.
(I understand there is great rivalry between the two).
“How are your shares doing?”
“ So are mine. So glad we haven’t got a Labour coalition, that would have been disastrous.”
“Are you still doing the weed? “
“It doesn’t do anything for me. The only time it worked was in the Caribbean and I got really stoned, must have been something to do with the heat.”
What do people drink between events? I looked at three tables.
To the right they were drinking champagne, to the left white wine and our table had beer and tea.
Now what does that tell you about the English class system? Answers on a digital postcard please.
The Hay Festival is set on the Welsh Borders but it is an English event.