Tag Archives: libraries

Diary of a hopeful author: The book pulping has to stop

It’s “Wednesday Wafflings” when I post the latest entry in my Diary of 

Photo of a Diarya Hopeful Author…

Call me old-school, but I like books. Not simply the e-ones, although, to be fair, they are amazing, increasing, as they do, the universal access to reading and information and the wonder that is knowledge. But books, the ones with spines and pages and the heady scent of learning – they are something else. And so, I bring to you this week – whilst  I swim in the deep end of my final book edit -a piece I wrote back in June 2012 for an old ‘Media Monday’ post, all about how Manchester Central Library were going to cull their book stores, pulping them, just like a similar proposal for New York Central Library.  Have a read and see what you think. I, meanwhile, shall go edit another 20,000 words…

 

“They’re pulping all the books” – Media Monday post – June 2012

Book pulping. Is it a) a new a Tarintino film; b) a fist-fight at a literary festival; or is it c) the shredding of books from a library. Well, this week, Manchester Central Library has found itself in a pulping mess after – in an open letter to the Head Librarian (you can read it here) – a host of eminent literary names called for a halt to the destruction of thousands of library books from the vaults of the long-standing library.

According to The Guardian, it turns out that for the past 18-months, Manchester Central Library has been culling – pulping – its stack of non-fiction books because renovations for the elegant domed building have not included enough room for, well, all the books.  You’ve got to question what on earth they were they thinking when the renovation decisions were being made. Just imagine the meeting where they discussed the library’s future. ‘Right, so, we need to renovate, yes?’ Cue murmurs of agreement. ‘It’s going to cost £170million and take three years. It will look fabulous. Any other considerations? Anyone? We’ll have enough space, right? Right? Great. Custard slice?’ Hmmm.  The thing is, I understand why libraries

Manchester Central LibraryManchester Central Library – but where are the books?

have this predicament. The more books they have, the more space to store them becomes an issue – it is a problem the New York Central Library is experiencing right now in their own renovations process.

But the point of a library is to have books. And those books are used by the people to learn, to expand their knowledge. Take older books away and you take away a history, a timeline of information and a generation of experience and thought. It turns out I’m not the only one who thinks this way. In their open letter, the literary figures said: “We are concerned that far too much of the irreplaceable collection is in danger of being lost forever. We demand that the current destruction of stock is halted and that a thorough investigation of the library’s disposal policy is carried out.”

In this age of the digital book, there is a clear argument that the use of books via such media can provide constant access to literature resources whilst saving valuable space and money. This I agree with in many ways. But to destroy old books, just like that, with no consultation with the public who use them and in many ways you could argue own them? That’s wrong. Would artifacts be destroyed from a museum? Or Royal documents or jewels be scrapped? Of course not – so why these books?

The Manchester Central Library was built in the Great Depression as a symbol of hope, its vast circular inscription reading “exalt wisdom and she shall promote thee”. Maybe, before they destroy any more books, the powers that be should stop and read that inscription for a second. At least it’s one set of words that can’t be pulped – I hear stone’s is hell to pick out of a shredder.

 What do you think? Should books be pulped or kept?

 Out on Thursday “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my latest newspaper column to my blog…*

Diary of a hopeful author: The library – a place, in the page of a book, you can be whoever you want to be

It’s “Wednesday Wafflings” when I post the latest entry in my Diary of a Hopeful Author…Photo of a Diary

**This week I am honoured to be ‘Tweeting for the Week’ for the great Voices 4 Libraries campaign group. So my Wednesday Waffle blog today is a post I have written for their website all about me and libraries…**

I grew up in a library. And by ‘grew up’ I mean I went there every Saturday morning for almost my entire teenage time. Money, see, was tight. Back then, in the early 1980s when Maggie Thatcher was at the helm, interest rates were through the roof and Danger Mouse was on TV, money for books was a thing of luxury.

Trouble was, I wanted books. I wanted books more than I wanted food, more than I wanted water – more than I wanted Morten Harket from A-ha. I was hooked. Books you see to me were my oxygen. And if books were my oxygen, then the library were my lungs. Without the two, I couldn’t breathe. Knowledge was what it was – is – all about. Knowledge is the nutrients you glean from books, from the library, and just like nutrients, knowledge makes you grow.

And grow me I did. I devoured everything. Fact, fiction, goblins, boarding schools, hobbits, workhouses, magical wardrobes, sweeping fields. I would sit, cross legged in Leyland library for hours on end, books stacked by me like small towers, each of them in sections, ready for me to read.

And read them I did. Fast, slow, again. You name it. Some I took home, others I finished there and then, but each time I picked one up, each time I inhaled the woody scent of a new page, of a worn spine, I would smile, because I knew. I knew that I was learning, that this library, this wonderful place of knowledge, facts, world news, fantastical journeys, would help me figure things out. And if not, at the very least, I knew a good read of the page would send me off to sleep at night.

Some two decades on, and that love of the library is still with me now. My job is a writer, freelance, and I surround myself with books and words. In 2012, I became a newspaper columnist for the Gloucestershire Gazette newspaper, and also a magazine columnist for the Gloucestershire Citizen and Echo newspapers. Before that, for years, I was an advertising copywriter working on words for big brand ads.

In and around all this, I have written radio sketches for the BBC, plays, short stories, and in 2012 I was runner up in the Wotton Arts and Literature Festival Short Story Prize. I write a regular blog. I’ve had a stab at TV scripts, too, ending up long- listed in a BBC Talent scheme for a script I wrote for the TV show, Casualty. And for The Guardian newspaper, I was short-listed in their travel writing competition.

All the way, the library throughout everything has seen me good. So good in fact, I’ve ended up writing fiction books of my own, my first, The Boy Who Played Guitar, published in digital and print last year. 2013 has seen me complete the first draft of my second novel and now it’s the long edit process and then I’m done.

So that’s me. Nikki Owen. A lover of the library. My obsession with all things knowledge, with all things right, fair and equal being the reason why I’m tweeting for @VoicesLibrary. With two kids of my own now who love the library just as much as I do, who read so much that there just aren’t enough books. Two kids who also now want to be writers, illustrators, farmers, vets, doctors, because books, knowledge – it is who they are. And that’s the library in 2013. A place where, in the page of a book, you can be whoever you want to be. For free.

Links: Twitter: follow @VoicesLibrary and join the debate (and me!).

 To support the campaign online, you can click onto their website here.

What are your experiences of libraries? Do you think there is still a place for libraries today or do you think, with the digital era, they’ve had their day? Let me know.

Out tomorrow “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my latest Gazette newspaper column to my blog. This week I’m talking about  fox hunting in Gloucestershire…**

Gazette column: The council must provide equal access to libraries

It’s “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my weekly Gazette newspaper column to my blog so you can have a read…

This week my column for the Gloucestershire Gazette is about the new mobile library scheme in Saul, Gloucestershire, and why the county council has a duty to provide equal access to libraries. To read it, simply click to my Column page.

What do you think? Is the provision for libraries enough? Should people make their own way, no matter how far, to a library, or should there be more local access to libraries? Let me know.

**OUT THIS SATURDAY: My latest column for  Gloucestershire Citizen and Echo newspaper.  Catch the Weekend Magazine on their website link here**

**Look out for  Wednesday Wafflings next, um, Wednesday, where I post the latest entry in My Diary of a Hopeful Author**

Gazette column: Rape is not a reason to tell women what to wear

It’s “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my weekly Gazette newspaper column to my blog so you can have a read…

This week my column for the Gloucestershire Gazette is about the recent comments made by Joanna Lumley and the MP Richard Graham, and why rape, or any other crime, is not a reason to tell people what to wear. To read it, simply click to my Column page.

What do you think? Should women – people – be able to wear what they like without fear of violence? Or does what we wear affect what happens to us? Let me know.

**OUT THIS SATURDAY: My latest column for  Gloucestershire Citizen and Echo newspaper.  Catch the Weekend Magazine on their website link here**

**Look out for  Wednesday Wafflings next, um, Wednesday, where I post the latest entry in My Diary of a Hopeful Author**