Tag Archives: london review of books

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 They’d been replaced by machines.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

This Friday I point you to some engaging reading around  the blogosphere:

1. Before I moved to the UK three years ago, I’d never read The London Review of Books. Like its cousin on the other side of the Atlantic – The New York Review of Books – it just seemed too daunting a task to squish into my overly-crowded week. But then a friend gave me a gift subscription and I started to read it. Sure, it has its share of slightly-too-long reviews of books you’ve never heard of. But it also has some real gems that are well worth the effort. In last week’s issue, I was especially taken with Andrew O’Hagan’s analysis of car culture in America, as well as Jonathan Raban’s expat take on the expenses scandal roiling British parliament.

2. I am a HUGE fan of writer/performance artist/radio commentator Sandra Tsing Loh. (Never read Mother On Fire? Get thee to a bookstore!) So I was saddened to read her account of her divorce in this month’s Atlantic, which is at times funny, moving and just plain sad. Read Salon’s Amy Benfer’s thoughtful piece on why Loh’s fans will really take this split to heart.

3. Lest Loh’s article inclines you to give up entirely on marriage or long-term partnership, have a look at Emily Yoffe’s brutally honest but uplifting essay about her husband’s first wife in Double X.

4. Finally, I was delighted to happen upon this blog – The Frugal Chariot – which highlights the author’s favorite books, music, films and plays. Just eyeballing the selections, I know he’ll have some good pix for me.

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