Of course, I will write about libraries. Any time I find an author who thanks a librarian I know that I like that author.
For this, thanks to Kirsten Grace who discovered an article by Zadie Smith in The New York Review of Books (6/2/12), “The North West London Blues.”
Being (please lower voice and look away O-L-D) I asked Kirsten if she subscribes to the NYRB. Her eyes slid sideways as she replied, “Um, no.” Ok, ok, I still subscribe to a few things, a few paper things, that I enjoy taking out of the post box and (dare I say) fondling. From Smith, on the Willesden Green’s Council’s intention to demolish the library:
The three of us lamented this change and the cultural vandalism we felt it represented. Or, if you take the opposite view, we stood around pointlessly, like the Luddite, fiscally ignorant liberals we are, complaining about the inevitable.
Later in the article she says:
What kind of a problem is a library? It’s clear that for many people it is not a problem at all; just a kind of obsolescence. At the extreme pole of this view is the technocrat’s total faith: with every book in the world online, what need could there be of a library?
(nb: not ALL of the books in the world are online)
Finally, because I must stop sometime:
This kind of argument thinks of the library as a function rather than a plurality of spaces.
I LOVE ZADIE SMITH.
Ok, I changed my mind; one more bit:
All libraries have a different character and setting. … There aren’t many institutions left that fit so precisely Keynes’s definition of things that no one but the state is willing to take on. … A library is a different kind of social reality (of the three dimensional kind), which by its very existence teaches a system of values beyond the fiscal.
Thank you, Kirsten
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