Every now and then a writer will be asked to nominate a favourite word, and out will come “magenta” or “elfin” or “thrash” or whatever else floats up through the murk. Writers cannot have favourite words because every word in its proper place is perfect, but, if there were to be a word that remains lovable for me, even when set adrift on meaninglessness, it would be “library”. “Tea and buns” may be nice, but “tea and buns in the library” is rhapsodic. For all those unschooled girls over the centuries, who sat atop library ladders devouring their fathers’ and brothers’ books without permission, the library was Samarkand. Excitement, adventure, happiness bloomed in the sunlight filtered through tight-drawn linen blinds, as they gathered up treasure that no one could steal. The most adventurous, like Lady Mary Wortley, taught themselves Latin, so they could plunder Martial and Juvenal and Ovid, and learn as much about sex, drugs and rock’n’roll as their brothers knew. Libraries are places where you can lose your innocence without losing your virginity. …
… Though they are the best way for the keeper of books to watch that his readers don’t deface or damage books, panopticons are no longer in fashion. Libraries are no longer intimidating but inviting. Where once libraries went to considerable lengths to keep people out, now they struggle to entice all kinds of people in, the young, the poor, the lame, the blind. [Guardian Unlimited | Comment is free | Flashy libraries? I prefer to get my adventure out of the books not the building]
She goes on to compare the experience created by the much noticed library building in Peckham (South East London) with a new library in Cavan, Ireland (The Johnston Central library and Farnham Centre). It would be nice to see pictures. I have been in the Peckham library, not not in the Cavan one. Maybe the story carried pictures in the print edition? This is certainly something that is missed when reading papers online.
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