Knovvmads Summer Edition
From the Editor’s Desk
I don’t usually practice many rituals but since I discovered this book, I read it in full before traveling. This is Theory of Travel. The Poetics of Geography by Michel Onfray, a French philosopher that I read since college. In this work he explores the concept of travel. From his philosophy, he considers that the journey begins in the library. “Every corner of a good library leads to the right place” he states because one will naturally go to the preferred library to plan a trip.
It is through general information that one begins to experience travel. Onfray suggests avoiding ignorance about the chosen destiny so as not to fall into disappointment. Personally, I should have heeded this suggestion when I visited Beijing: I trusted myself to get enough information when I arrived in the city. Although I was able to get to the direction indicated on the map, I was in a cold sweat when I realized that there was no hotel there. The disenchantment began within hours of landing and I was never able to taste the city as I expected.
Every trip is a cocktail of emotions. It could be said that this is life but there is a density that distinguishes what is experienced on a trip. Being in an unfamiliar place, the fear of getting lost can appear for the first time or manifest itself with too much intensity. If one is mistaken for a local, one delights in such an event. However language barriers, the inability to read a map, and orientation problems are good criteria for determining the success or failure of the trip.
This is why it seemed pertinent to mention the ways in which libraries make travel possible. Whether it is the creative writing programs that invite you to write or the accredited office to apply for a passport, the services of the libraries encourage us to dream and realize that trip. They even make all kinds of immobile travel possible.
For this issue we had conversations with fiber artists, photographers, CEO’s and of course, librarians. They all shared a common thought: reading is a form of traveling.
How is it that we sit in front of a book and remain motionless while our mind wanders not only through pages but also across universes and time?
Reading has always been a way of traveling without physically moving. In this case, it is the mind and feelings that are in charge of making the movement. This ability to place yourself elsewhere is amazing. Sometimes that is why reading is lived so intensely, because it is as if we were indeed there. We let ourselves be enveloped by the plot to participate in it through the character who has questioned us.
In humans, a reminiscence of nomadic life persists. There are cases in which he insists on being part of everyday life and then it happens that some cannot remain still. This may have been one of many losses caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Families and couples have been separated because feelings are not essential reasons for traveling. Although flights are gradually being restored, it has been an especially difficult season for people in these circumstances.
Technological development, the need to innovate and the unprecedented context have made other travel experiences possible. This is the case of the 360 stories company that offers a virtual tourism service. Time travel has also been made possible through the photography of Miquel Salom, a Spanish artist who takes photos with the Wet Plate Collodion technique. Thomas Guignard shared us his experience playing Geoguessr and is also the interviewee of this issue’s Talent in Orbit.
Libraries are especially relevant when they can reach out to the communities that need them.
We talked about this with David Kelsey, president of the Association of Bookmobile and Outreach Services. From the Netherlands, Dick Van Tol told us about libraries at airports and train stations. In turn, Christian Lauersen and Marie E. Eiriksson invited us to be library tourists and contribute to Library Planet, a collaborative blog that reviews libraries of all kinds.
Accompany us to visit a few cities in these pages: Austin, Texas is our city with cultural charm and we feature a review of its Public Central Library. Our book’s recommendations come from this stunning place. In the city of Malmö we visited Garaget, a library characterized by being the living room of the community. Altaïr invites us to tour Prague with a complicated mission: kill Kafka even though he is already dead.
Although travels and tourism have been affected because of the pandemic, there has had to be a change of attitude to enjoy the tiniest experiences of movement. It is a way of saying yes to life in the middle of adversity. Suzanne Macaulay invites us to find yes during Covid-19 within the profession and the institution. On a relative note, Karla J. Strand shared her views on how libraries have a role in leadership development of girls and women. Her perspective shines a light on very important matters that ought to be addressed.
Consider this an invitation to explore the still experience of travel. Some ideas might be available in your local library and others could be suggested to be developed in a collaborative way. Libraries also have large collections of world literature as well as books in different languages. Not only do our bodies circulate in the library, so do the ideas.
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