They can burn books, destroy libraries, forbid languages, ban beliefs, delete past times,
draw new present times, order future actions, torture and execute people...
But they still don´t know how to kill the intangible and bright
bodies of ideas, dreams and hopes.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

A starting point

A starting point

By Edgardo Civallero

"Abandon all hope, ye who enter here". If my memory isn't playing tricks on me, this was the inscription that, as a welcome message, received the damned to the eternal punishments, according to the Hell's vision that Dante imagined in his Inferno.

At the entrance of our libraries, there should be a similar phrase, but in the reverse sense: "Look for hopes, you who enter here". And, inside every librarian, there should be beating a third sentence: "Generate hopes, you who are able to do it". Pointing out that libraries' users look for hopes in us and in our shelves would be like repeating texts already written. It sounds romantic, yes, but I prefer this romantic point of view rather than facing terms like "client". Sometimes I wonder if somebody really believes that human knowledge (one of the little common heritages that still belongs to all and each of us) can be sold, despite common sense and the hundreds of international recommendations, declarations and ethic codes on free access to information. I also wonder if some facet of our existence still remains without being quantified, measured, valuated, quoted and entered in the value market.

After wondering all this, I remember that men sell Nature like if they were they owners instead of a weak, ignorant and disconnected part of it. And I understand a lot of things.

Anyways... The hopes looked for among books are a lot, and a lot of colleagues must have lived these tiny, daily miracles of witnessing the encounter between the book (and the hopes inside it) and the reader: student without resources that overcome exams and get degrees; children that open their eyes to new worlds, and old people who want to go back to these worlds, tired of walking long and difficult roads; women who want to strip of the chains put to them by a machist society, and men who want to overcome their fears and ignorances to confront an elitist society; blind people who can see, dumb people who can speak, deaf people who can hear...

Definitively, these are the hopes of human beings who know by intuition that the word "impossible" was created by a few for managing the life of the "many" who still believe in dictionary's definitions. To generate hopes, to give answers to these hopes – that is our primary duty. I guess that each one will find the fairest and most balanced way of tacking this task, according to each one's professional qualifications and personal possibilities. The important point here is not to forget the mission. To teach it, if we are teachers. To learn it, if we are students. To divulgate it, if we are workers. And to face it, and to put it into practice daily, from research and reference to classification or teaching. Let it become a part of our mind, of our soul. Let accept it as a duty, a moral obligation, like another point to add into a written or tacit ethic code. I am sure that this will be a good starting point to be proud of our profession, to love our work... or to start loving it, if we still didn't understand what we do and who we are. Because, as Jorge Luis Borges wrote, I have always imagined Paradise like a library. And, at its entrance, an inscription, a positive copy of Dante's one...

"Look for hopes, you who enter here".