Thursday, 4 June 2009

Library porn

Real Gabinete Portugues De Leitura Rio De Janeiro 3 

“Libraries gave us power,” said the Manics.  That’s how I felt when I first discovered the local library as a youngster, but having checked out many of the country’s library’s in recent years I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t now. It’s not power they give you now, but indigestion.

RIJKMUSEUM-AMSTERDAMEvery council in the country seems to have the idea that bigger is better – bigger, that is, when it comes to blowing the budget on the building instead of the books.

Libraries aren’t about books now, they’re about “communities.” They’re about looking good.  But they’re rarely, if at all, about books.

Every library I’ve visited in recent months is “new and improved” -- which seems to mean that its book stacks are now anaemic, an dhidden “down the far end,” while the building designed to house them suffers from grandomania.  Acres of space is given over to entrances and meeting areas and spaces for “culturally appropriate” community activities, but the space given over to actual books in these places is decidedly the poorer cousin.

If knowledge is power, then the country’s libraries have given up the struggle.  Grandomania has beaten purpose.

Not so however with the wonderful libraries pictured here, taken from the hundreds collected at Librophiliac: a Compendium of Beautiful Libraries. My thanks to Danyl for sending me there (and giving me the title for this post).  These are my idea of what real libraries looks like.

TRINITY-COLLEGE-LIBRARY-DUB ()

The three beauties pictured here are (from top to bottom) the Real Gabinete Portugues De Leitura Rio De Janeiro, Brazil; the Rijkmuseum Library, Amsterdam; and the Trinity College Library, AKA, The Long Room, Dublin, Ireland.

7 comments:

  1. Libraries give us power. Ex-Libraries give us happiness. What more could we want?

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  2. There are about as many books in the ex-library Galbraith's as there are now in your average library.

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  3. That's as maybe, but after the fourth pint of Bitter and Twisted, the pain of that realisation is somehow dulled. :)

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  4. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_bh8bDjQg84

    Books are burning - xtc.

    Books are burning
    In the main square, and I saw there
    The first eating the text
    Books are burning
    In the still air
    And you know where they burn books
    People are next
    I believe the printed word should be forgiven
    Doesn't matter what it said
    Wisdom hotline from the dead back to the living
    Key to the larder for your heart and head
    Books are burning
    In our own town, watch us turn 'round
    And cast our glances elsewhere
    Books are burning
    In the playground
    Smell of burnt book is not unlike human hair
    I believe the printed word is more than sacred
    Beyond the gauge of good or bad
    The human right to let your soul fly free and naked
    Above the violence of the fearful and sad
    The church of matches
    Anoints in ignorance with gasoline
    The church of matches
    Grows fat by breathing in the smoke of dreams
    It's quite obscene
    Books are burning
    More each day now, and I pray now
    You boys will tire of these games
    Books are burning
    I hope somehow, this will allow
    A phoenix up from the flames

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  5. ...the internet is the biggest library in the world...but the books are all over the floor.

    Anon.

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  6. Now that's a sight for sore eyes! Libraries completely and unashamedly dedicated to reading. Beautiful.

    The problem with public libraries these days is that they're expected to be all things to all people.

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  7. I thought I recognised Trinity College, it's a great place to visit. Unfortunately they don't actually let you read the old books as a visitor, scared you'll damage them I suppose (many are hundreds of years old), you can just look at them. That's practical, they need to preserve them, but it's a shame it has to be that way.

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