Yes, I have to admit that I have an addiction and it’s one that I have had since my school years… Well actually I have two!
The first one is that I love Libraries, and probably too much!
Yes, I have a love of books (as I had mentioned in a previous post) and this began at a very early stage in my life. I can remember being taken to Lakemba Library by Mum. In 1974 (aged 11) I won the Library Book-week Award.
Libraries for me were such fun places for a young mind to be. I remember being interested in a number of subjects, Geology, Astronomy, Aircraft, Ships, Science-Fiction, Movies but to name a few. Libraries are a font of information and (these days) some have questioned their relevance with the ever-present Internet now wound indelibly into our lives.
Our High School had a library (originally in an old classroom, but then a more modern separate facility was built up on top of the Science labs from memory). As soon as practicable after an assignment was given, I was off to the Library to do research and disappear into the ‘World of Books!’
I could quite happily spend hours at a Library when I was younger. As I grew up I would enjoy spending more and more time at the Library, taking as many books as I was allowed, and then enjoyed sifting through them at home, exploring and discovering worlds that I had not seen, experiencing (through books) things I had not done.
Fast forward to when I started work (1979, 16 years of age) wherever I was working I would search out where the local libraries were and join them, particularly if I was in an area for a while. Over the years I have been a member of Lakemba, Burwood, Earlwood, City of Sydney, North Sydney, Aim (Australian Institute of Management), Penrith, Parramatta, Bowral, Customs House, Campbelltown, Camden, Wollondilly, and most recently I joined the National Library of Australia.
I’m currently a member of Campbelltown, Wollondilly, Camden & the National Library of Australia. Why still so many, and particularly when the Internet is such a force for information gathering? The Internet is a wonderful source for information for sure. Sometimes though it is overwhelming in its choice of what sites/people to take notice of?
For amount of information, the Internet obviously wins hands down, so have Libraries lost their importance, their place in the world at large or in my world?
No, I don’t believe so for the following reasons:
1. When you walk into a Library it is like walking into an ‘inner sanctum.’ You are physically surrounded by knowledge, by the experiences of others and a sense of imminent discovery. Books, waiting on shelves, waiting for someone to accept them into their lives, to share their knowledge and wisdom. Often a library is a place of minimal noise and it is a place of relaxation for the mind. At least that is how it is for me.
2. The Internet has many people airing their views and information for all to see. Is everything on the Internet correct? There is no-one or body vetting the information before it appears there. From what I understand, the individual library will choose the books that they will have in their library so at least there is a ‘control’ to a certain extent.
3. The Library of the 21st Century is in the continual process of change to ensure it maintains its relevance in the community. Whilst at times the there is still a quietness about a Library, it now welcomes more and more groups as a meeting place. Craft, reading, discussion groups, retirees as well as the younger folk use the library as a meeting place. It is continuing to bring individuals and communities together.
It is pleasing to see change happen in libraries for without change they could quickly lose their relevance.
My second addiction unfortunately does not stop at ‘being a member of multiple libraries.’ My thirst for knowledge remains unabated and sometimes I have books (or other items) out of 3 or 4 libraries at the one time so consequently I could have between 5-10 items out in total, and in the past had even more out!
Whilst I read fiction, a lot of the books borrowed are reference books on all manner of subjects e.g. Photography, Art, Oil Painting, Drawing, Cacti & Succulents, Sketching, Travel, Astronomy, Music, Business, Self Development, Poetry, Verse, History and so on…
The challenge for me is to reduce the number of items (and in particular, books) that I borrow as I don’t always get time to refer to them as I lead quite a busy life.
Alas it is a challenge for me to walk into a library and only take one book out, but I did that this week!!! I just have to return the other 4 from the other two libraries….
Written by David Johnson
October 9, 2013