This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse this site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. For more information, see our privacy statement

New Left Review 107, September-October 2017


rebecca lossin

AGAINST THE UNIVERSAL LIBRARY

In 2004, I decided to become a librarian. I did so because I love reading and I needed to make a living in a fashion that would not, or so I hoped, leave me feeling alienated and depressed. In particular, I love reading books. Often long and dedicated to a single idea, argument or story, books are also incredibly durable. They can survive coffee spills, the interior of my over-stuffed handbag, and if my niece pulls them off the table, I am not faced with a small financial crisis. The best thing about a printed book, however, is what it does not do. I cannot use it to watch television or check my email. My mother will never call me on it. My boss will never use it to interrupt me. In an age of constant media distractions, having a single object dedicated to a single activity—reading—is increasingly important. If nothing else, books that cannot be searched by keyword remind us that good ideas are not always efficiently come by—that learning takes time.

Subscribe for just £40 and get free access to the archive
Please login on the left to read more or buy the article for £3

Username:

Rebecca Lossin, ‘Against the Universal Library’, NLR 107: £3
Password:
 



If you want to create a new NLR account please register here

’My institution subscribes to NLR, why can't I access this article?’