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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Shame on you

I used to enjoy visiting the local library back in the UK. It was very small - just a few stacks jammed into a tiny building - and the books were old and yellowed, but clean and crisp and in beautiful condition.

Occasionally, I could find forgotten tomes that had been out of circulation for years. It was like finding buried treasure.

A library book is a precious, precious object. It is shared, loved by many, and does not discriminate. It is a piece of history, a cherished heirloom, a valuable antique. As such, a library book should be cared for so that it can last a long time, long after newer editions are produced, long after the book goes out of print.

Since I started going to the local library with Stardust, I have noticed that the books here are in appalling condition, even the ones that are relatively new (that is, printed within the last year).

I hate to see books looking abused - dog-eared corners, torn sheets, brown water stains, mouldering food remnants, covers crisscrossed with foldlines and trimmed with fraying edges. Some of the more unfortunate volumes even have bloodstains on them or colourful graffiti across the pages.

Sometimes, the books appear to have received some medical attention in the form of hastily applied sticky tape which festoons the pages and leaves the print unreadable. Sometimes, the bookcover has been reattached with glue applied by an enthusiastic hand, such that it oozes over the pages of the book and binds the whole paperback together.

One would think that the mistreated books would tend to cluster in the children's section of the stacks, where they are mostly handled by the young and uncoordinated (and unsupervised). However, I have found that these sadly neglected manuscripts are to be found in all sections of the library.

Shame on you, whoever you are, wherever you are.

If you are a true bibliophile, a proud patron of the written arts, a reader of penned thoughts, then treat these documents well! Some of them were written before you were even a thought in your mother's head, so they should receive the respect due to those who are elderly and wise. We should be so lucky to have access to so much of the written word here.


Blogger budak said...

avoid those annual National Library used book sales (usually at Suntec or Singapore Expo).... folks their fling the books about like paper towels.......

5:02 pm  
Blogger tscd said...

budak: ARGH

4:57 pm  

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