|Civilization lives on, in that inimitable British fashion|
Please share some of your favorite libraries with us, be they awesome and magnificent or ever so humble (mobile library mystery, anyone?) In this article in The Guardian, Germaine Greer brings her usual passion to pleading for the preservation of historic libraries. A very loud "Amen sister!"
There are more comfortable places to read than Duke Humfrey's Library, but none more atmospheric or thrilling. When I give my bag to the concierge and trot up the stone stairs, I get the same feeling as a football fan heading for the turnstiles.
Bodley is very special, but so is any building that was built to store books and manuscripts, whether monastic or princely or academic or corporate. It may be dark and inconvenient, but it is as much a creature of its own historic moment as Venice's Biblioteca Marciana, which was built to a design of Sansovino in the mid-16th century. The Marciana was built to house the precious collection of Cardinal Bessarion; the illuminated manuscripts, the beautifully printed books and the building together make an integrated artefact. To be sure, methods of cataloguing and conservation should be modernised, but to remove its books and its walnut bookcases and gut the building would be as barbaric an act as burning the library of Alexandria.
|The Duke Humfrey's Library reading room at the ancient Bodleian Library at Oxford|