If technology remained in the service of what is higher than itself—reason, man, God—it might indeed fulfill some of the functions that are now mythically attributed to it. But becoming autonomous, existing only for itself, it imposes upon man its own irrational demands, and threatens to destroy him. Let us hope it is not too late for man to regain control.
—Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander
Those were some of Thomas Merton’s prescient thoughts about technology in 1966. We can’t know what he would think about the newly digitized collection at the Thomas Merton Center in the W.L. Lyons Brown Library, but we’re pretty sure the folks who tend the collection have firm control over that technology.
The idea of digitizing some of the more than 50,000 items in the Merton Center, the official repository of Merton’s artistic estate, came in response to a donation of materials by the Zarrella family, said Mark Meade, the center’s assist-ant director. “The family wanted the materials not only to be preserved but to be widely accessible. Placing the scanned items online and showing Merton Center visitors an interactive touchscreen exhibit are ways we can promote little-known jewels from the Merton collection, like the Dorothy Day and Catholic Worker items.”
Some digitized items are available only on a kiosk located inside the center because of copyright issues, but more than 350 items are currently available online at merton.bellarmine.edu. The self-serve kiosk can be used during regular weekday operating hours, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit www.merton.org.