I was a bit miffed. And a bit embarrassed, actually. Rejected by an op shop. In the season for giving. You see, I’d turned up to one of their big stores, with four boxes of well-loved books. Among them were treasured Bryce Courtenays and Jeffery Archers, well preserved political tomes and autobiographies. They were hard to part with. Books are precious to me. But we had no more room. It was time to make way for new volumes.
But this charity had embarked on a new chapter too. ”No more books!” The man at the back of the shop told me. “We have too many. People just don’t read anymore. Not books anyway.”
What? Could that really be true? Had the Mayan calendar been misinterpreted? Was it, in fact, the end of the physical word, not world?
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I don’t think I’m old-fashioned, but I was quite saddened to see that an Adelaide high school had hawked its entire library collection - 10,000 books - to charity.
It decided so few students were now borrowing books that it would prefer to ditch the whole collection than bother with its upkeep. Good get for the charity, but I think the students have been ripped off.
Sure, it makes sense to get rid of the texts books that have been moulding on high shelves for decades, or are so outdated that they still have maps of the Soviet Union - but Every Single Book? Even the non-fiction, take-home novels?
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Is it time for our libraries to get loud? For background music to joyfully sing out from loudspeakers while members flip through their favourite sections of their local institutions?
For mums to discuss bedtime books for their children over a well made latte (yep, you guessed it, with the sound of a library cafe’s coffee machine hissing along with their conversation).
For book club discussions to rise and fall with the passion of the group, for students’ laughter and cookie munching to be heard at study tables and whole conversations to be voiced within the libraries’ venerated walls.
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