I've written before on what I consider to be the vital necessity of libraries in maintaining and reinforcing the foundation of modern civilization. It's something that was reinforced for me five years ago, during my February 2004 journey to the United Kingdom.
Among the attractions in the British Museum is the British Museum Reading Room, dating back to 1857. Until the late 1990s it was part of the British Library, until that organization moved out of the Museum to its own digs. History was made in this room. Karl Marx wrote Das Kapital here.
It's pretty striking, and to me, a reminder of the immense value intrinsic in places like this.
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