My interpretation of this age-old theme is a personal response to show how knowledge has been obtained over the centuries. Cambridge is a city full of books and libraries which contain an astounding amount of knowledge. Surely books will not disappear? You cannot snuggle up in bed with a small child reading a Kindle, how much nicer it is to physically turn a page and be surprised by the layout and pictures.
The original painting was presented to Hughes Hall, Cambridge by a Life Fellow and now hangs permanently in the Library. I like to think it will always be there.