There are plenty of unique gifts that make humans stand out from other animals. We’re good at figuring things out, for instance, and have the dexterity to play around and create. But perhaps the best attribute we have is that we’re able to record knowledge and pass it onto future generations. If we didn’t have this skill, then every generation would have to start again — they’d have to go through the process of figuring out how to make, say, vaccines and so on. Instead, that knowledge is transmitted forward, which the next generation can build up. The idea is that the baseline of knowledge and understanding raises each generation, and things can progress.
While there are many ways to transmit knowledge, perhaps the most useful tool for this purpose has been the written word. There are documents that were written thousands of years ago that we can still learn from; that information would have been lost had nobody thought to record it in writing. A huge player in the transfer of knowledge throughout history has been libraries. They’ve been cultural and social centers for thousands of years, that have helped people to learn, grow, collaborate, and much more.
And the good news is that they’re stronger than ever before. Did you know, for instance, that there are more public libraries in the United States than there are McDonald’s restaurants? To learn more about the world’s most important libraries throughout history, take a look at the infographic below, which was produced by the University of Southern California.
Infographic Design By University of Southern California
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