Monday, July 13, 2009
ACADEMIC-St. Paul's Cathedral Library
(Okay, so I just got called out by one of my professors back home about all play and no work!!! I am here now to assure everyone that I am earning my student keep in London and making URI proud! After all, if it were not for them, I would not be here now. So, Dr. McCarthy-this one is for you...)
Today, we went to the library at St. Paul’s Cathedral. I am almost ashamed to say this, but it was more moving than the church itself. The librarian is a wonderful British man named Joe Wisdom. And believe me, it is no misnomer. He knew not only the church’s library collection, but the history of the church itself and all of the politics involved since the church’s beginning in the 7th century.
While it was quite powerful to view the collection of ancient theological texts, it was also very interesting to hear about the development of the church with the country’s backing. We pride separation of church and state so much in our country that most Americans would be appalled if they heard what I heard today. In all fairness, I had to wonder if the pride I discussed earlier that Britons show for their history and the values they portray in regards to business don’t stem from the values that allowed the church to flourish.
So, what is it that we can take from this library? This is a library that was destroyed by fire and rebuilt again. It is a library that has seen some good times and some bad, including a Deacon that did not believe the library was even necessary and almost ruined it by his lack of care. The library has tried to expand, even considering becoming a Library of Congress repository, and it has been forced to cut its collection. It catalogs a collection that existed long before the cataloging system-not an easy task. Funding is often an issue and as I write this the library is in severe need of a benefactor.
Just because it is a special library, we must not take away from it the truth that it must face the same challenges that all libraries face. And because it is a special library, it often has to be much more creative to overcome the hurdles that we face everyday. For Joseph Wisdom, he is a one-man team that is keeping the history alive in his hallowed halls for not just the believers, but for anyone who believes in maintaining a social record of our beliefs and actions, and the monuments to which we devote our time and so much emotion.
For more information about the St. Paul's Cathedral, click here.