I miss libraries, but mostly I miss browsing the piles

Last year, the library in the city where I grew up unveiled a $ 20.8 million transformation project. New features include a museum-quality store, an 18-foot video wall, two professional media studios, an outdoor patio, an upgraded MakerSpace, and a Yamaha Disklavier piano. There were also water bottle filling stations, extended coffee hours, double the number of appetizers and fewer books.

Was it true, as the book said, that almost a third of the library’s physical collection had been thrown away? No official number was to come. All we knew for sure was that the ground floor, formerly the battery house, had become a “flexible space” and that the majority of adult books were in tight spaces on the ground floor. – floor. Moreover, thanks to zealous weeding, certain titles came and went so quickly in the catalog that it was almost as if books were on loan from the library.

And yet, the bookish did not boycott the place. It was there, in fact, that I heard their growls about the reduced collection. Whenever I was in town to see my parents, I would go to the library myself, and if it didn’t always have what I was looking for, it could be relied on to provide something strangely better: what I didn’t know I wanted. Sometimes I left the building with a pleasantly subversive phrase (Michael Gorra, from his preface to The daily Henry James: “[N]o scholar never paid much attention to it and for decades it has survived the only way the forgotten books survive: undisturbed in piles ”). Most often it was with the feeling of a renewed me and a new world. Why had I never heard of X? How had I lived so long without Y? In the piles, William H. Gass writes, “such epiphanies, such enrichments of mind and changes of heart, are the substance of every day.” This must be the reason why in the last hours before the March closing I visited the library in my hometown twice.

#libraries #browsing #piles

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