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May 24, 2008


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Matthew Thomas

I'm reading this book now and for better or for worse, the reviewer seems to have captured the spirit of the book. In fact it seems like Mr. Hensher is Mr. Manguel's twin in terms of their professed love of books. Unfortunately, they also share a bizarre distaste for information and organization. I almost put the book down when I came to Manguel's negative comments about weeding practices and digitization and electronic resources. He brought me back with his somewhat naive but certainly common sense suggestions for how libraries should band together to ensure the protection of as much as possible, because to be honest, I am very often just as naive and idealistic. LOL

As for the reviewer's comment about Exeter Library's weeding practices, I wonder if there has been any discussion of the matter with the librarians or whether this is just another case of, "OMG the library throws out books?!?" I would think that most university libraries "...regularly toss[ing] out irreplaceable volumes..." would quickly run out of those irreplaceable volumes. And even though something is irreplaceable, doesn't mean that any body will WANT to replace it.

My disappointment with the book and the review is the total dismissal of the non-entertaining and non-archival functions of the library. We're supposed to keep everything but be mainly a space to spin around in awe of the world's body of literature. Serendipity is great but most times I just want to find what I'm looking for. And besides, even the most rational order can inspire random connections.


hmm, interesting review...it does totally gloss over all the complexity of preservation/access and just paints us as moronic book-burners. Unless Exeter really has lost the plot the reviewer seems to be misinterpreting normal weeding as a sinister activity...getting all worked up by an oversimplification of the issues?

they're going to be even more peeved when they realise Broomhill Library is about to be moved to new premises...

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