April 01, 2010

Our local public library in London, SE1

Public libraries were central to my developement. I'd go down every single shelf, picking out books to skim for utterly subjective reasons. The green and red Loeb Classics for example will be in my heavenly library, just because of the Greek or Latin text directly opposite the translation. Anyway it's been decades since I've been in a UK pubic library, so I sidled warily into John Harvard Library (Harvard's founder grew up in Southwark) with a bookish and be-scootered young lady from New Jersey. A few impressions:

1. Staff were helpful, smiley, bright and willing.
2. Enrolment was a doddle.
3. 15 books per member! No call to liberate any folio'd friends.
4. Computerised self-withdrawal system was almost excellent. Just a couple of glitches for 'differently' catalogued items.
5. It was child-friendly up the wazoo! loads of noise, relaxed atmosphere, bright light. That's at odds with my idea of a library as a place of study, but has its plusses.
6. There just aren't that many books.
7. The children's section is passable.
8. The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender section is in the Adult section for now and apparently exists due to public demand (I enquired). The demand must be superb since LGBT shelf space = the whole of Science, Technology and Natural History.
9. The public demand for Black History must be even more superb, since that subject's shelf space is 2x the size of the whole of Science, Technology and Natural History.
10. The public demand for Social Science must be superbly superb, since that subject's shelf space is 5x the size of the whole of Science, Technology and Natural History.
11. I couldn't find the Loeb Classics.

I guess I just wasn't made for these times, but a black sense of humour does help along with whisky and Frank Zappa to which and to whom I reach for consolation. I suspect John Harvard would feel the same.

No comments:

Blogger/Flickr test

Bonnabel Wood