The Library: Principles and Models (Part Three)

A library is, in principle, a wonderful thing. A supremely wonderful thing. So why is it so rare to see me entering one?

Firstly: they hardly ever stock the books I desire to read. A library is a canon: albeit one that reflects a wider canon. My reading takes place largely outside of canons. Thus it must take place largely outside of libraries. Esoteric libraries there may be, but I have yet to find one that stores the complete works of Koira Jupczek, or Oa Aayorta. This is what is known as a Sad Fact.

Secondly: libraries have a habit of getting in the way of that beautiful relationship between a reader and a book. This is not altogether saddening. There is, indeed, a certain pleasure in handling a book with a history. Who touched this cover before me? Whose coffee stain is that on p.213? Who underlined that particular word and why? Yet with libraries comes a responsibility; one that stops, arguably, at a coffee stain. There are boundaries to the relationship a reader can forge with a library book – not least the fact that, at one point or another, the book must be taken back. The reader is, thus, expected to treat the book with decorum.

Here I struggle. To be obliged to treat a book with decorum: this I simply cannot accept. This is not to say that I want to kick all my books about. I am not, largely speaking, an abuser of books. But at the very least I want to be in a position in which I could abuse them if I wanted to. This is all I ask.

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