Today has been a day of protest against library closures, and as public libraries have played such a major role in my life I thought this blog should add its two penn’orth. In the words of Ben Elton, “a little bit of politics” – though I have chosen to eschew the shiny suit that was such a trade mark of his stand-up years (however, given that this medium is both electronic and asynchronous you will have to take my word for that, for all you know I could be typing this stark naked (please don’t have nightmares)).
Libraries have been a key part of my life from childhood right up to (quite literally) today – introducing me to authors, genres and whole subject areas to read and so vastly enriching my life (and as a consequence, the range of topics upon which this blog can touch). They also perform the critical function of allowing me to read books without then having to store the finished book for later reference. Without libraries, I would have to work a whole lot harder to finance a much larger house in which to store books.
All this thinking of libraries brings to mind the Dewey decimal classification system, and I am forced to wonder what Donald Duck’s other two nephews ever achieved. But, I really should check Monsieur Roget for a synonym for digress.
As this blog has previously mentioned, I mis-spent much of my youth taking minutes. For much of the meetings which these minutes were to immortalise, little of note and nothing worthy of life-eternal happened. Oft, the same pointless re-iteration of views, brought out at every previous meeting, would be batted to and fro whilst our hero lost the will to live. I felt it would be useful if I could indicate in some subtle, but unmistakable way, that it was not just their own time they were wasting.
Cue a trip to North Shields library and the discovery of the book whose title graces this post. And what a book it was! In somewhat fewer than 100 pages (88, if memory serves), many with diagrams, it took the reader from tyro to expert. By the end of this modest volume, I could confidently be throwing knives at my beautiful (or more likely, terrified) assistant whilst I was blindfolded and he or she was spinning on a wheel. The book had a red cover – by design, and not as a result of a previous reader’s inability to grasp some of the concepts laid-out therein – and most importantly for my purposes, its title printed in large, friendly letters on the cover.
At difficult times during a meeting, I would take this book out and read it – indicating, firstly that nothing which was being said would appear in the minutes and secondly that I would be in need of volunteers. I am not convinced that it ever cut short discussion (and no-one ever volunteered to assist me in a potentially lucrative new career) but it did make me feel better and restore much needed joie de vivre. I really don’t feel an iPhone or Kindle could in any way have replaced the critical role of North Shields library. Without such repositories of free and public knowledge, how will future generations fight off tedium and re-discover the will to live?
Maybe its time to canvass the Coalition for volunteers to assist me in my blade projecting ambitions?