The lost serendipity of libraries



In which I bemoan the quest for "relevance" and "convenience" in a public library system that has resulted in the discarding of the very qualities that made libraries special, and worth keeping.

When I was a child, I lived in a town with an excellent public library. It was housed in a great Victorian building, with a sandstone facade. It was split into 3 main rooms: the Reference Library (which also contained newspapers and periodicals), the Junior Library (a smaller annexe at the back and the Main Library. As a child, I got my first library card for the Junior Library. A precocious reader, I cut a swathe through their collection and pretty much sucked all the literary juice out of that part of building by the time I was 10 years old.

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