Saturday, March 25, 2006

Philip Pullman loves libraries

Philip Pullman tells the Times why he loves libraries as part of the Love Libraries campaign.

A library in Battersea made a "big impression" on Pullman, when he was ten years old. Pulman explains in this gorgeous paragraph, one we can all relate to:
  • That was where I first read about the Moomins, and about the French children in that exciting novel A Hundred Million Francs, by Paul Berna, and, come to that, about Biggles. Ever since the day when my mother took me there and got me signed in as a member, joining the local public library has been almost the first thing I’ve done on moving to a new address.

Pullman goes on to explain why libraries are still necessary in this day and age. His reasons are beautiful, sound, and human. They are:

  • "First, there’s the place itself: a special place, dedicated to assembling knowledge and making it available."
  • "Secondly, there’s the physical engagement with the books. Looking at a screen, reading text on a monitor, is a process I and many people find a bit cold and distancing, and certainly uncomfortable to do for a long time."
  • "Thirdly, there’s the infinite value of browsing." Boy, do I agree with this reason. The things I've found looking for something else in a library have often turned out to be much more important or useful than the original, searched-for target.
  • "Fourthly, there’s the library staff. What helpfulness, what experience, what knowledge!"

Pullman concludes, "So libraries of every sort are treasure houses. I love them, I cherish them, I use them all the time, I could not bear to live in a society without them. "

A beautiful ode to the library. Librarians take note--you have an friend in Pullman.