Notes from a Small Library

As many of you pointed out, Harborough Library has computers and I am using one at this very moment, although it is jolly busy and I had to book an hour’s slot, which won’t be nearly enough time.

I love and hate libraries in equal measure.  I never, ever use the library because I can’t get my head round the concept of reading a book and then GIVING IT BACK.  This is a monstrous idea, although the people who have just moved three and a half thousand of them from my old house to my new house may well beg to differ.  I also dislike the fact that libraries are no longer quiet.  As I type, I can hear a wretched baby howling in the play area (sic) and there is a school group in the children’s section who are talking in normal voices and clapping.  It’s all wrong.  Where are the crusty, sour-faced individuals insisting that if the old man in the corner continues to breathe in such a loud and wilful way he will be ejected forthwith?

On the other hand, a well-stocked library should be a haven of knowledge, creativity and mental exploration that opens a world of learning to anyone who cares to look.   Also, instead of scary librarians with dyspeptic personalities, we have a charming, well-spoken young man with a long ginger ponytail who clearly loves his job and can never give one enough help. Swings and roundabouts, you see.

8 Comments

Filed under Community and shopping, Indoor Activities, Leisure

8 responses to “Notes from a Small Library

  1. Oh my beloved libraries: what has happened to you?

    I so agree about the whole “let’s make noise in the library” trend, which irritates me too (although our nice, middle class library in Farnham suffers from this less). Also – case after case of books have been removed to fit in computers, which strikes me as antithetical to the whole ethos and purpose of a library.

    But the thing that drives me crazy is the proliferation of so-called “Quick Choice” stacks. Our library is full of them – but they are in no order whatsoever and are some three books deep on each stack.

    This means that, far from a visit involving a quick check of the alphabetised shelf to see if the author and title is available, one must rifle through endless random copies on one stack after another simply to see what stock the library has. This is ludicrous and makes me utterly cross – as it flies in the face of the very idea of librarianship, and is an insult to the memory of Melvil Dewey – a true hero of the modern age.

    Clearly I must get out more – and I don’t mean to the library…

  2. Affer

    Libraries are there to save us from the Unmitigated Horror of buying from Waterstones, from whom I acquired four books just this week. The surly ginger tosser who served me obviously didn’t like my selection….mind you, the young girl at the desk in nearby Foyles nearly made up for it!!!

  3. I loved my hometown library when I was a kid. Smelled of books, the big leather armchairs that were dotted about…and Pledge. And it was very, very quiet (except for the waist high swinging door into the reference section that sqeaked.)

  4. When I lived in London I used to pay a lot of money to belong to the London Library, which is as good as it gets. Millions of books (classified according to the library’s own eccentric system; sorry Mr Dewey), very flexible lending arrangements, helpful librarians, a wonderful reading room with tables for working at and leather armchairs for snoozing in, and current issues of every periodical I wanted to read from Apollo to Private Eye. It was like everything that was good about the Victorian period (Carlyle was one of the founders, Dickens and George Eliot early members). The Argentine writer (and librarian) Borges said paradise would be like a library and there in the London Library one could believe him. If only local authority libraries could be a little bit like this place, the world would be a better one. Mind you, our local library does have helpful staff. I recently listened to a teenager being recommended volumes of the Romantic poets by a young woman who looked little older than herself. Things are not all bad, even though sometimes they seem so.

  5. Sue

    I love libraries and make full use of several in my area. I don’t go in them to sit and study but to borrow craft and cookery books I would otherwise have to buy (and probably regret having done so later).

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  7. Bunty

    I used to love going into the library, because of the lovely smell and a wonderfully quiet haven from a very noisy world. I never go any more because they are no longer quiet and peaceful, and are too modern and unfriendly. Consequently, I end up buying books, some of which end up being completely dross which I will never read again, take up valuable space on my bookshelves or get taken to a charity shop (who are not always terribly grateful for yet more books!)

    Bah humbug !!

    Sorry for grumpy message – been suffering from extreme pain for over a week now. WH … something to make me laugh please :))

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