‘The unpacking of books, perhaps because it is essentially chaotic, is a creative act, and as in every creative act, the materials employed lose in the process their individual nature: they become part of something different, something that encompasses and at the same time transforms them. In the act of setting up a library, the books lifted out of their boxes and about to be placed on a shelf shed their original identities and acquire new ones through random associations, preconceived allotments, or authoritarian labels. Many times, I’ve found that a book I once held in my hands becomes another when assigned its position in my library. This is anarchy under the appearance of order’.
– Alberto Manguel, ‘The Art of Unpacking a Library’
[Image: Juno Lamb]
Recently, I posted on the Dunedin City Council’s move to axe library services, a phenomenon clearly not limited to the imbeciles who reside in the same neck of the woods that I inhabit. Well it seems that the DNA of city councils, managed as they all-too-often are by tunnel-visioned accountants [NB. This could serve equally as a decription of many other ‘public-service’ institutions] is as balmy, fatuous, asinine, squirrelly and moronic in other parts. The friends of Somerset’s, Glastonbury’s and Shepton Mallet’s libraries recently produced this clip to aid their compaign against library closures. I thought it was brilliant … and worth sharing.
After reading about this latest threat from the depraved, short-sighted, unimaginative and wreckless Dunedin Council to cut library services, I was inspired to read (via Jim Gordon’s blog) about the people in Stony Stratford, near Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, who have spent the week withdrawing their maximum allowance of books in protest against council plans to close it as part of budget cuts. They withdrew all 16,000 books from their library. So we’re off to the library again to max out our borrowing, doing our bit to undermine the claim that ‘the proposed changes reflected the number of people using the library …’, a claim I find astonishing given the high number of library users I observed when I was in there last week; in fact, every time I’ve been in there. In fact, I don’t think that I’ve ever seen so many using a public library. It was a bit like a packed stadium, only the crowds were there for longer. So if you live in Dunners, and you’re not a regular at our library, please get reading our books!
BTW: here’s one of the priceless images from last century, depicting the London Library after the 1940 blitz:
Update: I will continue to post links related to this issue here as I find, or am alerted to, them: