Thursday, September 18, 2008

Every Book Its Reader


A few months ago we blogged about Scott Douglas’ library memoir Quiet, Please. If you thought that was cool, check out these books for library lovers:

Free for All: Oddballs, Geeks, and Gangstas in the Public Library by Don Borchert. "The author recounts his experiences working as an assistant librarian in a public library in suburban Los Angeles, as he encounters patrons who range from bored latchkey kids left there for the afternoon, to rowdy teenagers, to Internet-obsessed adults, to drug-dealers."

The Library at Night by Alberto Manguel. "A fascinating voyage through the Argentina-born author's mind, memory, and vast knowledge of books and civilization illuminates the mysteries of libraries, from his childhood bookshelves to the libraries of the Internet."

Every Book Its Reader: The Power of the Printed Word to Stir the World by Nicholas A. Basbanes. "An exploration of some of the literary works that have most influenced human culture is based on a landmark British Museum exhibition and includes coverage of publications by such writers as David McCullough, Harold Bloom, and Elaine Pagels." An interesting excerpt from pages 15-16:
In 1923, a man named S. R. Ranganathan (1892-1972) applied for a position as chief librarian at the University of Madras in India. Of the nine hundred people who sought the job, none, including Ranganathan, had been trained for the work. What gave this quiet academic the edge was a background in research -- he had two degrees in mathematics -- and a smattering of information about librarianship gleaned from an essay in the Encyclopedia Britannica he had read a few days before being interviewed for the job. Appointed in 1924, Ranganathan was bored at first by the apparent tedium of the routine, but was persuaded to soldier on when offered an opportunity to pursue advanced study in London. When Ranganathan returned to India, he was determined to make books a more powerful force in Indian life, with ideas for the establishment of public and national libraries at the forefront of his agenda. In time he wrote fifty monographs in his field, most notably Five Laws of Library Science (1931), which outlined a set of principles that has become a guiding code among professionals. Three of the laws -- Books Are for Use, A Reader's Time Is Precious, and Libraries Are Growing Organisms -- were directed primarily at his colleagues. The other two -- Every Reader His Book and Every Book Its Reader -- have meaning for anyone with an abiding respect for the written word.

And of course, who besides me could resist this?

Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron. "Traces the author's discovery of a half-frozen kitten in the drop-box of her small-community Iowa library and the feline's development into an affable library mascot whose intuitive nature prompted hundreds of abiding friendships."

What books are you reading? Let us know by leaving your comments below!

~ Mike, Adult Services

1 comment:

  1. This was an entertaining and informative blog entry about new library related books. May have to check one of these out soon. I am reading the new book by David Sedaris,"When You Are Engulfed in Flames." It is excellent. It is nonfiction, but reads like short stories(my favorite.) This was the first Sedaris book I read, and now I'm hooked.
    "Every book its reader. . . a reader’s time is precious. . ." Indeed. Go Ranganathan!