Saturday, September 17, 2016

What Is The Ideal Library?

“The ideal library is meant for one particular reader,” writes Alberto Manguel in A Reader on Reading Yale University Press, 2010).  “Every reader must feel that he or she is the chosen one.

Manguel has a wonderful chapter in his book entitled Towards a Definition of the Ideal Library.  I leave you with selected passages from that chapter:

“The ideal library holds mainly, but not only, books.  It also collects maps, pictures, objects, music, voices, films, and photographs.  The ideal library is a reading place in the broadest meaning of the term.

“The ideal library allows every reader access to the stacks.  A reader must be granted the freedom of chance encounters.

“No shelf in the ideal library is higher or lower than the reach of the reader’s arm.

“No section in the ideal library is conclusive.

“The ideal library is both secluded and public, intimate and open to social intercourse, meant for meditation and for dialogue, parsimonious and generous, erudite and questioning, full of the despair of plenty and the hope of what has not yet been read.

“The ideal library holds the promise of every possible book.

“Every book in the ideal library has its echo in another.

“The ideal library suggests one continuous text with no discernable beginning and no foreseeable end.

“In the ideal library there are no forbidden books and no recommended books.

“The ideal library symbolizes everything a society stands for.  A society depends on its libraries to know who it is because libraries are society’s memory.

“The ideal library can grow endlessly without demanding more physical space, and can offer knowledge of everything without demanding more physical time,.  As a beautiful impossibility, the ideal library exists outside time and outside space.

“The ideal library both renews and preserves its collection.  The ideal library is fluid.

“The impossible task of every tyrant is to destroy the ideal library.

“The impossible task of every reader is to rebuild the ideal library.”

Though the author here is talking about one's personal library as well as bigger libraries, Publishers weekly recently reported on a poll showing the public still views the library favorably and that the majority of those 16 and over have utilized a library in the past year. They wrote:

"More than half of all Americans 16 and over used a public library in the past year, either in person or via the Web, according to a survey report on library use released this week by the Pew Research Center.  The survey also found that Americans continue to view public libraries as vital to their communities some 77% say that public libraries provide them with the resources they need, and 66% say the closing of their local public library would have a major impact on their community."

“Books must be read as deliberately and reservedly as they were written.
--Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)

The reading of all good books is like a conversation with the finest men of past centuries.
--Rene Descartes (1596-1650)

The tools I need for my trade are paper, tobacco, food and a little whisky.
--William Faulkner (1897-1962)

There will always be a mob with a torch ready when someone cries, “Burn those books!”
--Henry Seidel Canby

In literature, as in love, we are astonished at what is chosen by others.
--Andre Maurois (1885-1967)

In the highest civilization the book is still the highest delight.
--Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

Reading is to the mind, what exercise is to the body.
--Sir Richard Steele (1672-1729)

Without words, without writing and without books, these would be no history, there could be no concept of humanity.
--Hermann Hesse (1877-1962)

Before the use of parchment and paper passed to the Romans, they used the thin peel found between the wood and the bark of trees.  This skinny substance they call liber, from whence the Latin word liber, a book, and library and librarian in the European languages, and the French livre for book; but we of northern origin derive our book from the Danish bog, the birch-tree, because that being the most plentiful in Denmark was used to engrave on.
--Isaac Disraeli, Curiosities of Literature

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2016 ©.

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