The Library of the Living and the Library of the Dead

I am in the process of re-organizing my Google Drive and in doing so, I stumbled upon a bit of writing from 2013 that would have been a perfect addition to the post Haunted libraries, invisible labour, and the librarian as an instrument of surveillance which I wrote earlier this year:

When I was a child, the walls of books in the adult section of our modest public library always filed me with unease and even dread. So many books that I would never read. So many books I suspected – even then – that were never read. I was under the impression that all the books were so old that the authors must all be dead. Unlike my refuge – the children’s section of the library, partitioned by a glass door set in a glass wall – this section of the library was dark and largely silent. The books were ghosts.

I am imagining a library that is made up of two distinct sections. These sections may be on separate floors. They may be in separate buildings. But these sections must be separated and distinct.

One of these sections would be ‘The Library of the Living’. It would be comprised of works by authors who still walked on the earth, somewhere, among us. The other section would be ‘The Library of the Dead’.

When an authors passes from the earthly realm, a librarian take their work from the Library of the Living and bring it, silently, to the Library of the Dead.

And at the end of this text was this:

“We don’t have much time, you know. We need to find the others. We need to find mentors. We need to be mentors. We don’t have much time.”