Sunday, January 30, 2011

Philip Pullman on libraries

This is an excerpt from a recent speech by Philip Pullman, bestselling author of The Golden Compass.

Leave the libraries alone. You don’t understand their value.

"I still remember the first library ticket I ever had. It must have been about 1957. My mother took me to the public library just off Battersea Park Road and enrolled me. I was thrilled. All those books, and I was allowed to borrow whichever I wanted! And I remember some of the first books I borrowed and fell in love with: the Moomin books by Tove Jansson; a French novel for children called A Hundred Million Francs; why did I like that? Why did I read it over and over again, and borrow it many times? I don’t know. But what a gift to give a child, this chance to discover that you can love a book and the characters in it, you can become their friend and share their adventures in your own imagination.

And the secrecy of it! The blessed privacy! No-one else can get in the way, no-one else can invade it, no-one else even knows what’s going on in that wonderful space that opens up between the reader and the book. That open democratic space full of thrills, full of excitement and fear, full of astonishment, where your own emotions and ideas are given back to you clarified, magnified, purified, valued. You’re a citizen of that great democratic space that opens up between you and the book. And the body that gave it to you is the public library. Can I possibly convey the magnitude of that gift?

Somewhere in Blackbird Leys, somewhere in Berinsfield, somewhere in Botley, somewhere in Benson or in Bampton, to name only the communities beginning with B whose libraries are going to be abolished, somewhere in each of them there is a child right now, there are children, just like me at that age in Battersea, children who only need to make that discovery to learn that they too are citizens of the republic of reading. Only the public library can give them that gift. . . .

Then I came to Oxford as an undergraduate, and all the riches of the Bodleian Library, one of the greatest libraries in the world, were open to me – theoretically. In practice I didn’t dare go in. I was intimidated by all that grandeur. I didn’t learn the ropes of the Bodleian till much later, when I was grown up. The library I used as a student was the old public library, round the back of this very building. If there’s anyone as old as I am here, you might remember it. One day I saw a book by someone I’d never heard of, Frances Yates, called Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition. I read it enthralled and amazed.It changed my life, or at least the intellectual direction in which I was going. It certainly changed the novel, my first, that I was tinkering with instead of studying for my final exams. Again, a life-changing discover, only possible because there was a big room with a lot of books and I was allowed to range wherever I liked and borrow any of them.

One final memory, this time from just a couple of years ago: I was trying to find out where all the rivers and streams ran in Oxford, for a book I’m writing called The Book of Dust. I went to the Central Library and there, with the help of a clever member of staff, I managed to find some old maps that showed me exactly what I wanted to know, and I photocopied them, and now they are pinned to my wall where I can see exactly what I want to know.

The public library, again. Yes, I’m writing a book . . . and yes, I hope it’ll make some money. But I’m not praising the public library service for money. I love the public library service for what it did for me as a child and as a student and as an adult. I love it because its presence in a town or a city reminds us that there are things above profit, things that profit knows nothing about, things that have the power to baffle the greedy ghost of market fundamentalism, things that stand for civic decency and public respect for imagination and knowledge and the value of simple delight."

To read the speech in its entirety, check out

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What's new, pussycat?

It's going to be a rainy couple of days, just perfect for curling up with a good book!

Check out new fiction, including

The Choir Director by Carl Weber
Tick Tock by James Patterson
We Ain't the Brontes by Rosalyn McMillan
Electric Barracuda by Tim Dorsey
The Cypress House by Michael Koryta

See you soon at the library!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

American Libraries

Did you know?

Library cards are about as prevalent as credit cards. Two-thirds of Americans have a library card. For many young people, the first card in their wallet is a library card.

Most public libraries provide free wireless Internet access for their users. Nearly 12,000 now offer free Wi-Fi. That's more than Starbucks, Barnes & Noble, or Borders.

FedEx shipments worldwide: 8 million
U.S. Public library circulation: 7.9 million

Every day, 300,000 Americans get job-seeking help at their public library.

What can your library do for you today?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Libraries open today until 5 pm

All three libraries will be open today (Thursday) until 5 p.m. Call to check on Internet connectivity before driving in -- Internet is down at some libraries.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Libraries closed

All Abbeville County offices, including all three libraries, will be closed Monday, January 10 and Tuesday, January 11, and Wednesday, January 12 due to inclement weather. Enjoy the snow!

Thursday, January 06, 2011

January means tax time

Many folks use the library to pick up their tax forms each year at our libraries. Though we WILL be getting forms this year, as always, there is a delay in their arrival. Please see this information from the IRS:

"On December 17, the President signed the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010. The printing and distribution of many forms that were delayed pending the approval of this legislation can now begin. These products include Form 1040, Form 1040A, Instructions 1040, and Instructions 1040A, as well as many others. We are working now to accomplish the quick delivery of tax products."

Rest assured that, as soon as we have them, you'll have them!
See you soon at the library! :-)