These are my words, reflecting what I learned in multiple funded trips to work with Dutch intelligence at various levels, and multiple conversation across various conferences I attended in Europe. This is more or less what I told George Tenet when he became DCI….to no effect, naturally.
1994 was a very stressful time in Dutch intelligence history. A scandal had erupted in which the Parliament was investigating Dutch intelligence intrusions with audio-video into the homes of specific Dutch citizens suspected of this and that. Parliament was so angry they threatened to cut all funding for all intelligence. Two very good things emerged from this:
Before Gutenberg, a book cost about as much as a small house. As a result, only kings and bishops could afford to own a book of their own.
This naturally led to the creation of shared books, of libraries where scholars (everyone else was too busy not starving) could come to read books that they didn’t have to own. The library as warehouse for books worth sharing.
Only after that did we invent the librarian.
The librarian isn’t a clerk who happens to work at a library. A librarian is a data hound, a guide, a sherpa and a teacher. The librarian is the interface between reams of data and the untrained but motivated user.
After Gutenberg, books got a lot cheaper. More individuals built their own collections. At the same time, though, the number of titles exploded, and the demand for libraries did as well. We definitely needed a warehouse to store all this bounty, and more than ever we needed a librarian to help us find what we needed. The library is a house for the librarian.