Before I was allowed, to set foot in the Bodleian library in Oxford, I had to participate in an ancient ceremony and take an oath: “I hereby undertake not to remove from the Library, nor to mark, deface, or injure in any way, any volume, document or other object belonging to it or in its custody; not to bring into the Library, or kindle therein, any fire or flame, and not to smoke in the Library; and I promise to obey all rules of the Library.”
The Bodleian library was opened in the beginning of the 17th century, and is still one of the most revered halls of western civilization.
The oath cannot guarantee that readers will not damage the building or the collections of the library. Yet the founding fathers of the institution regarded this symbolic act as a contract. They trusted that it would create a connection between the reader and the library and promote appreciation and responsibility.Until recently libraries like the Bodleian used to be the world greatest source of information. Their collections and the information in their catalogues could be compared, in the internet-driven information age, to a leading search engine like Google or an online social networking website like Facebook.
Please keep reading in the Times Of Israel