christmas book wishes

minnow at minnow at
Mon Dec 22 05:14:03 EST 2003

Paul Andinach wrote:
>On Sat, 20 Dec 2003 minnow at wrote:
>> Though I did get a copy of the Oxford book of 16th Century Verse in
>> the old lovely blue hardback given to me second-hand recently: a
>> library copy put up for sale, which fair makes me despair of our
>> library system.
>Is it the *system* that you should be despairing of? My understanding
>is that library copies are only ever put up for sale if nobody was
>reading them anyway.

I'd feel more confident of that if I didn't know that I have bought
books second-hand that are on order, from me, in a different branch of
the library -- that being how I came by *Don't Knock The Corners Off* by
Caroline Glynn for 10p, after I reserved it and they hunted for it over
six months or so all over what was then Avon, and if I hadn't bought
hardback Rosemary Sutcliff in perfectly good condition from a library
that had just bought new paperbacks of all three that I bought from them
-- which sruck me as clean daft.

Besides, the verse was from the *reference* section, so how could they
possibly tell whether it was being read or not? There's no loans' dates
in the front of those.

No, it's the local council system: they make the hours of opening
shorter and more irregular, and then say "people aren't using this
branch, look, the rate of loans has gone way down" and close that branch
for not being used as much (on the Thursday morning and Tuesday and
Saturday afternoons it's now open) as it used to be (Monday to Saturday
9-6) and don't have to pay for the staff.

They recently "improved" the Central Library -- well, being fair, they
are still rebuilding bits of it -- by adding a ramp for the disabled to
use and reducing the hours the place was open so that it is now not
really available except during normal office hours, so that people can't
go in on their way home from work except on one day a week and I can't
remember which that is.  This is probably good policy for them because
they can then say, "look, nobody uses it in the evening" and stop
opening it then at all.  It now has a large computer section
occupying a space that used to be full of books.  Presumably soon we'll
find that there is less demand for books so they'll stop having those at

I find it a bit depressing, because the Central Library used to have a
really rather good collection, and it is shrinking instead of growing,
as far as I can make out from talking with the people who work there.

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