Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Library Book

The Library Book is a smallish anthology published in the UK in 2012 to support and celebrate public libraries, which are threatened all over the world by various governmental bean counters who (obviously) have never used libraries or ever cared for them.  The twenty four contributions range from essays to fiction and memoirs.  Of the fiction, there is an except from Un Lun Dun by China Mieville, and a short story by Kate Mosse. The best contributions in the book were, for me, the historical essay "The Library of Babylon" by Tom Holland, and a bookish memoir "A Corner of St. James" by Susan Hill. Many of the essays contain nuggets of wisdom.  I'll copy a handful below.

"Being a reader turned me into a writer. It fed my imagination and revealed worlds far beyond my own experience."  Val McDermid "Going to the Dogs"

"When you've bought a book, you feel obligated to finish it, just to get your money's worth. But when I borrow the adult equivalent of that Curious George trove, I'm free to start a disappointing novel and discard it. Paying nothing for the book itself, I can place a higher premium on my time."  Lionel Shriver "I Libraries"

" 'If someone suggested the idea of public libraries now, they'd be considered insane,' says Peter Collins, Library Services Manager in Worksop.'Because libraries are based on trust. I mean, if you said you were going to take a little bit of money from every taxpayer, but a whole lot of books and music and games, stick them on a shelf and tell everyone, "These are yours to borrow and all you've got to do is bring them back," they'd be laughed out of government.' "  Bella Bathurst "The Secret Life of Libraries"

" 'Reading is a much more alien concept for a lot of kids,' says Collins, 'The pace of life is different now, and people expect art to happen to them. Music and film do that, a CD will do that, but you have to make a book happen to you."  Bella Bathurst "The Secret Life of Libraries"

"Reading is not just an escape. It is access ot a better way of life." Karin Slaughter "Fight for Libraries as You Do Freedom"