Tag Archives: libraries

The Death Of The Library

I walked into my local public library in London the other day and got a rude shock. All of my favorite librarians were gone. They’d been replaced by machines. Where the circulation desk once stood — manned by a friendly soul with whom I’d chat about politics or the weather or the latest London Review of Books — I now swiped my library card and pushed a button that said “borrow” or “return.”

They’d also done some remodeling. This particular branch sits in an elegant 1930s building located in the garden of the house where the poet John Keats wrote his “Ode to a Nightingale.” The main room — once cluttered with books that literally spilled onto the floor — now is a shadow of its former self. Rather than books, the main thing on display would appear to be tables — artfully dotted around the room as if this were a cafĂ© or the premier-class lounge for an airline. (“It’s so bright even druggies wouldn’t inject here,” quipped a cynical online reviewer.)

And it’s not just in the United Kingdom where libraries are morphing into something else . . . if not dying out completely. I’ve seen numerous articles about the demise of them in the United States, whether it’s the closure of branches in Boston, reduced hours in Los Angeles, or the architectural makeovers that render library books merely decorative, as in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Read the rest of this article at www.PoliticsDaily.com…

Image: NYC-Midtown: New York Public Library Main Building via Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

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Friday Pix: Recommended Reading For The Weekend

Every Friday I point you to some recommended reading around the blogosphere:

1. Further to my earlier discussion of renting vs. buying a home, here’s a very sober account of the whole American home owning dream by Matt Bai in The New York Times.

2. And further to my ongoing obsession with libraries, here’s a piece from Salon on the death of the library book.

3. Writers will love this mock set of submission guidelines from The Rumpus (via Erika at the Practicing Writing blog.)

4. And while all you under-employed writers are at it, have a look at some of the day jobs held by famous writers over at Lapham’s Quarterly. (Hat Tip: @lizzieskurnick.)

5. In department of funny, enjoy the latest installment from Stuff White People Like on “picking their own fruit.”

6. Finally, from the indefatigable Kim and Jason on the Escape Adulthood blog, here are 20 signs that you are living life to the fullest.

Have a great weekend.

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Friday Pix: Recommended Reading For The Weekend

Every Friday I point you to some recommended reading around the blogosphere:

1. Here’s an incredibly well-written account of what it’s like to live through an earthquake from Ben Casnocha, who’s living in Chile.

2. In the department of funny bits about aging, have a look at this post on The Ten Geekiest Ways to Hide Your Age at The Boomer Chronicles. While you’re at it, have a look as well at this thoughtful take on what The Partridge Family might look like 30 years on at Surviving Middle Aged Widowhood.

3. More funny. Sara in Vermont shows us a laugh-out-loud British comedy sketch about a writer pitching an idea to an agent. (Hat Tip: There Are No Rules.) And here’s a very funny four-second video at Formerly Hot designed for those of us who remain technologically challenged.

4. Further to last week’s recommended reading on libraries and librarians, here are some stunning photographs of 20 of the World’s Most Beautiful Libraries, as well as writer Bibi van der Zee’s take in The Guardian on what it’s like for a true bibliophile to go a week without books.

5. Finally, because sometimes you really can’t make this sh!$ up, here’s my post on PoliticsDaily.com today about the new condoms being designed for – gulp – 12 year olds.

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Friday Pix: Recommended Reading For The Weekend

Every Friday I point you to some worthwhile reading around the blogosphere:

1. Here’s a really interesting article in the Wall Street Journal about why the “aging” of scientific research grants may impede creativity.

2. And while we’re on the topic of aging – according to the Los Angeles Times – the Tea Partiers are just a bunch of baby boomers longing for the 60s. Who knew?

3. I absolutely adored this homage to The New Yorker over on A Boat Against The Current. Who amongst us didn’t dream of the day the New Yorker would call? (Who am I kidding? Who amongst us *still* doesn’t dream…)

4. I’m now a regular over at Roger Ebert’s Journal on the SunTimes. Here’s a recent post he did on a visit to London (with many ref’s to my very own ‘hood.) It’s about writing…and walking…and, well, writing and walking. Fabulous.

5. If you’re into libraries, have a look at this article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer about Joyce Carol Oates’ abiding love of libraries. While you’re at it, here’s an interview in Salon with Marilyn Johnson, the author of a new book on librarians entitled This Book Is Overdue! How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All.

6. Finally, a dispatch from Fast Company on why it’s actually more productive to nap. Hallelujah!

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Middle Aged Desire: Two Scenes and a Moral

Over the weekend, I had two encounters which prompted me to think about desire in middle age. Borrowing a page from the wonderful Formerly Hot, I thought I’d share them with you:

SCENE ONE:

Setting: Grim public library in London on rainy, Saturday afternoon. DELIA stands hunched over computer, desperately searching for CD of first Pirates of the Caribbean movie for son before daughter’s ballet class finishes. She is clad in loose-fitting long, dark Eddie Bauer-style winter parka, which she hasn’t bothered to take off because she is in such a hurry. She looks vaguely like a parking lot attendant, save the over-stuffed cloth bag from Daunt Books, which hangs precariously over one shoulder.

MAN of unknown age, face and ethnicity approaches neighboring computer terminal and also begins typing.

MAN (clearing throat): Um…is this the library catalog?

DELIA (not looking up): Yes.

MAN (noticing her accent): Oh! Are you American?

DELIA (still typing): Yes.

MAN: How long are you visiting for?

DELIA (distracted): I live here.

MAN: With your husband?

DELIA: Yes.

MAN flees.

Analysis:

My First Thought: Yay! I’ve still got it!

My Second Thought: Wait a minute…he never saw my face, I’m wearing a tent, and he basically only approached me because…I’m female.

My Third Thought: Gross.

SCENE TWO:

Setting: Camden Town restaurant where two middle-aged couples pour over the film Up In The Air, which they’ve just seen.

HUSBAND: Call me crazy, but I just don’t think Vera Farmiga is all that hot.

Analysis:

My First Thought: What is he smoking?

My Second Thought: Yay! My husband finds me more attractive than Vera Farmiga.

My Third Thought: What am *I* smoking?
Moral of Both Stories: There’s no accounting for taste.

Stay tuned for my thoughts on why Up In The Air is a really grown-up movie…

Image: Untitled by Jfer via Flickr under a Creative Commons license.

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