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Libraries in the Past and Today

I listened to Ridiculous History: That Time People Were Terrified of Libraries this week. I picked this podcast because I enjoy learning about libraries and especially how people react to them. One of my favorite things to say is that if someone pitched the idea of libraries today, they would not exist because it would be seen as a socialist plot. This makes sense because a public library is owned and regulated by the community around it. Libraries pay for their services through property taxes in the surrounding area and donations. It does seems like a socialist plot when looked at in this way. But, many people use public libraries today and they have grown to be more then just books. This podcast highlighted some concerns that people have had in the past and maybe even today.

Image from Insider of an old library’s welcome commons

The main idea of this podcast was to relate how people thought of libraries to what people might be thinking right now about today’s libraries. When smallpox and other such diseases were all the rage, people thought that books could spread it. The theory they talked about was that each page has two sides so it can have twice the germs. It related to the virus that we are going through right now. When Covid was on the rise back in 2020, my public library had to take certain measures that they had never thought of before. For example, a similar task that both past and present did was to quarantine the books or even have patrons keep them until the sickness had passed. Ridiculous History did a great job when it came to describing these events.

Image from Pioneer Library System of their SOKC Branch

Podcasting is relatively new but there are many shows that talk about all sorts of topics. I was listening to this podcast while I was doing other tasks but I did get bored about 30 minutes into listening. I felt like the hosts kept repeating themselves and it started to annoy me. I did learn more about the topic than I was expecting to. I think that the way they told the story helped me to absorb it. I was often read to sleep as a child and even today I like when people read to me or tell me stories. I think that this relates to how I absorb the information while doing other things. When reading about a history, it goes in one ear and out the other for me. Although, this podcast was able to stick in my brain unlike a textbook would. I would recommend trying a history podcast out if it’s about something you’re interested in.

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