Category: Libraries

Enjoying an old library book

As a child I used to hate the idea that a book I was reading from the library had been handled by other people. A sort of Kenneth Williams obsession with cleanliness, particularly when reading in bed, made it difficult to enjoy flicking through a dogeared and stained copy of a book.

But as I get older and value the ability to go to the library and get books for free the idea of owning an ex library book becomes more attractive.

The dates stamped in the front cover hint at a story. My copy of The Cossacks by Tolstoy is from the Kensington and Chelsea library and the last date stamp is a faded 1968. it is easy to imagine someone reading that book as the world erupted in protest.

A bookmark that also doubled up as a library stamp shows that people were getting books out during the second world war. As the bombs dropped and the battlefields of France robbed lived someone was still clinging onto routine by going to the library.

Buying ex library stock, particularly from the past, has now become something to be desired rather than shied away from and those books have the ability to tell a story that is only limited by your imagination.

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The year of the book?

One of the highlights of last year was joining a library. It was not the first time I had been a member of a library and have usually had a card since a young boy. But moving around London in the last few years denied me the motivation to settle down enough to get a library card. That changed this year and it has been a great source of not only books but also occasionally advice.

With that in mind it seemed a great shame to read The Independent’s article about the closure of so many libraries this year. It seems that investment is lacking. But part of the problem must also be the identity crisis that most libraries seem to be going through. Are these temples of learning that are open to all? Or are they cheap alternatives to Internet cafes and Blockbuster film rental stores? No doubt there is a happy balance between the two but even my local library seems to fall on the wrong side of that tightrope.

Let’s hope that if the government is serious about 2008 being the year of the book that the investment in libraries, and in particular providing books for the public, will improve this year.

The year of the book?

One of the highlights of last year was joining a library. It was not the first time I had been a member of a library and have usually had a card since a young boy. But moving around London in the last few years denied me the motivation to settle down enough to get a library card. That changed this year and it has been a great source of not only books but also occasionally advice.

With that in mind it seemed a great shame to read The Independent’s article about the closure of so many libraries this year. It seems that investment is lacking. But part of the problem must also be the identity crisis that most libraries seem to be going through. Are these temples of learning that are open to all? Or are they cheap alternatives to Internet cafes and Blockbuster film rental stores? No doubt there is a happy balance between the two but even my local library seems to fall on the wrong side of that tightrope.

Let’s hope that if the government is serious about 2008 being the year of the book that the investment in libraries, and in particular providing books for the public, will improve this year.

The cost of the Playstation generation

t is a sad indication of the declining position books have in the lives of most young people that school libraries are becoming almost obsolete through a lack of use. A storuy in the Gudrain today, which I cannot find a link to, sets out a sad picture of no one using school libraries and money to support them drying up. I remember spending many happy hours in the school library, some occasionally reading books, and it would be a real shame if these quiet temples of learning are lost. There is such little chance for people to find the sort of mood a library produces with the quiet and peace that to lose them would definitely not help children in both learning and behaviour.

The cost of the Playstation generation

t is a sad indication of the declining position books have in the lives of most young people that school libraries are becoming almost obsolete through a lack of use. A storuy in the Gudrain today, which I cannot find a link to, sets out a sad picture of no one using school libraries and money to support them drying up. I remember spending many happy hours in the school library, some occasionally reading books, and it would be a real shame if these quiet temples of learning are lost. There is such little chance for people to find the sort of mood a library produces with the quiet and peace that to lose them would definitely not help children in both learning and behaviour.

A classic case of computers setting the rules

No doubt the trend that is happening in the US to get rid of books that have not been checked out for two years will come to the UK. Libraries are now struggling to house books, DVDs, computers and areas for people to read books and newspapers so the prospect of freeing up some shelf space will be irresistible for some libraries. The Bookseller Blog points to an article in The Washington Post, which covers what is happening in America and it seems that there is no reprieve for a book based on its ‘classic’ status. For those people with enough disposable income to head to eBay and Abe then getting the books they were after might not be too much of a problem but for those without that luxury the idea that books could be taken out of the library because they haven’t been read for a set period of time is going to exclude them from those authors and titles.

My secret plan, should this approach be taken at my local library, is to check out old unloved classics with each visit to make sure myself and others can continue to enjoy them – an Adopt a Classic campaign should do the trick.

A classic case of computers setting the rules

No doubt the trend that is happening in the US to get rid of books that have not been checked out for two years will come to the UK. Libraries are now struggling to house books, DVDs, computers and areas for people to read books and newspapers so the prospect of freeing up some shelf space will be irresistible for some libraries. The Bookseller Blog points to an article in The Washington Post, which covers what is happening in America and it seems that there is no reprieve for a book based on its ‘classic’ status. For those people with enough disposable income to head to eBay and Abe then getting the books they were after might not be too much of a problem but for those without that luxury the idea that books could be taken out of the library because they haven’t been read for a set period of time is going to exclude them from those authors and titles.

My secret plan, should this approach be taken at my local library, is to check out old unloved classics with each visit to make sure myself and others can continue to enjoy them – an Adopt a Classic campaign should do the trick.