When I was a child I used to love to go to my grandfathers house. It was an older three level house on a decent sized lot. His backyard always had a functioning vegetable garden, herb garden and grape vines that he would harvest every year to make his own preserves and wine. The basement level was more of a mini natural history museum filled with rocks, minerals and fossils that he gathered in travels around North America ( He drove around the continent, never setting foot on an airplane). The other two levels were filled with bookshelves wherever a bookshelf could seem to be fit in. My grandfather was a big believer in, "If you want to learn how to do something; teach yourself". I was told that he never progressed beyond the 5th or 6th grade in formal education, yet when he retired he did so as a senior engineer from the US Steel Corporation. He was a walking wealth of knowledge and he continued learning right up until he was done living.
My mother once said to me how his massive library was an odd combination of books on many subjects, dating back well into the 1800's filled with obsolete general knowledge, science, engineering and many other subjects. She further commented on not understanding why he kept all of these 'obsolete' books. Her comment resonated in my mind for many years. As an adult I came to appreciate the times in which he lived; As a young man he lived through the 1918 Influenza outbreak that took so many lives and put such a strain on our society. He navigated the uncertainty of the Great Depression and the equal uncertainty that was World War II. After that he lived the rest of his life in an America that was filled with opportunity and plenty. Perhaps because of what he saw in life, from horse drawn carriages to watching men walk on the moon on his television; he realized that all these modern wonders could disappear as quickly as they appeared. If this were to happen would he allow his civilization to fade back into the dark ages, or would he do what little part he could in the knowledge he possessed to do what he could to restart it?
Is it so surprising that in my own time I began to build my own library? The number of physical books in it is no where near as massive as his was (Many of these books were destroyed in flooding that was a result of hurricane Sandy). After those books were destroyed I started to think of how could I maintain a library of my own, that can be a source of 'core knowledge' and preserve it in such a way that I wouldn't loose it easily? Those points I will answer in future entries but my immediate answer was I began to download digital copies of many of the old books my grandfathers library had , plus a plethora of many,many more. Initially I used the following two resources and I would save the digital copies to hard drives and memory sticks:
But in time a friend gave me the following address:
On the Survivor Library site I found someone else who had spent a lot more time assembling the same thought I had. Instead of doubling the work the Librarian already started, availed myself to acquire his library and then make additional duplicates to safe guard it. This library has proven to be an incredible resource of information dating back centuries.
In our modern time of plenty and technical wonders, there are many who have never known a world where any information wasn't immediately available at their fingertips. A simple blackout would leave them blind. One person could never master all the knowledge contained in these many thousands of volumes, but many thousands of people can safeguard this knowledge and make it available to all those who can preserve our civilization.