Category Archives: library

Library campaigners descend on parliament to defend public funding

Authors including Cathy Cassidy and Philip Ardagh have joined librarians lobbying MPs to protect the service from cuts that have seen 441 branches closed since 2010.
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Writers & illustrators supporting libraries including John Dougherty, Philip Ardagh and Jake Arnott and Sarah McIntyre. Photograph: @jabberworks/Twitter
At a packed hall in Westminster, flanked with colourful handmade banners with “save our libraries” slogans, bestselling authors including children’s authors Alan Gibbons, Cathy Cassidy, and Philip Ardagh joined the Speak Up for Libraries campaign, Librarians and supporters from across the UK to urge MPs to focus on what they see as the root cause of the decline in libraries – the “apathy and ignorance” in local and central government.
Library funding has been cut by more than £180m over the last five years – a drop of 16% – corresponding with a 93% increase in volunteers working in libraries and a 22% drop in staff since 2010.
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National Libraries Day

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The Alibi Library enjoyed celebrating National Libraries day with everyone this weekend!!  We all have hangovers and alibis after our own bookathon involving the Sherlock Holmes series in which one was expected to drink a snifter every time a body part was mentioned. Unfortunately the word “hand” proved rather more frequent than we´d imagined:

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Other Library Day events were better organised and well supported. Find out about more events and follow up here and here:

National Libraries Day

The Library Campaign

Next up Valentine´s Day for a romantic rendezvous in a Library near you!

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Librarians Take to the Streets

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Residents in Lambeth, London, protest against library closures. Photograph: David Rowe/Demotix/Corbis

As Alison Flood reports in her recent article in The Guardian, “Shaking off their traditional reputation as lovers of peace and quiet, librarians are preparing to take a loud battle for Britain’s libraries to the door of the culture secretary.”

She reports that the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (Cilip) is challenging the government over its “failure to carry out their legal duty to the public” and keep branches open using the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act (stating that the public has a statutory right to a quality public library service.)

“We’ve had enough. We’ve marked our line in the sand here. The government is behaving as if it doesn’t have a duty of care and they do, under the law. We think it’s time to be clear about what that means,” said Nick Poole, the chief executive of Cilip.  More than 100 library branches were shut last year, and further branches up and down the UK face closure.

 

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/dec/17/librarians-take-legal-fight-against-library-closures-to-government?CMP=share_btn_fb

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/dec/17/library-closures-campaigns-fights-cuts-uk

 

 

Russia, free librarian Natalya Sharina

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Natalya Sharina, director of the Library of Ukrainian Literature in Moscow, was arrested in October after police raided her workplace and home looking for ‘extremist literature’.

After they allegedly found work by a banned writer, Natalya was forced to spend two nights in a prison cell and now faces up to five years in jail – simply for exercising her right to freedom of expression.

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from Amnesty International

sign petition here:

https://www.amnesty.org.uk/actions/russia-free-librarian-natalya-sharina?utm_source=FBPAGE&utm_medium=Social&utm_content=20151215173100&utm_campaign=Freedom_of_expression

 

 

Not for the faint- hearted…

Perhaps the most distressing of all “alibis” can be found in Martin Amis´Time´s Arrow. descargaA Nazi Holocaust doctor now on his deathbed revisits his life in flashback.  In a sickening and disorienting twist these flashbacks come in reverse chronology and so we see the camp doctor healing and saving his patients instead of tortuously experimenting on their dying bodies.  And so the despicable doctor makes good, ironically fulfilling our ideal of a medic, one who cures, and the patients walk free.  A disturbing enough plot device but coupled with the precision with which Amis can describe the events it makes for the most harrowing of reads:

“Uncle Pepi´” has surpassed himself with the new laboratory: the marble table, the nickel taps, the blood stained porcelain sinks… In this new lab of his he can knock together a human being out of the unlikeliest odds and ends.

On his table he had a box full of eyes.  It was not uncommon to see him slipping out of darkroom carrying a head partly wrapped in old newspaper…. The next thing you knew there´d be, oh, I don´t know, a fifteen-year-old Pole sliding off the table and rubbing his eyes and sauntering back to work, accompanied by an orderly and his understanding smile…

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As to the so-called experimental operations of “Uncle Pepi´”: he had a success rate that approached – and quite possibly attained  – 100 per cent. A shockingly inflamed eyeball at once rectified by a single injection.  Innumerable ovaries and testes seamlessly grafted into place.  Women went out of that lab looking 20 years younger…

“Uncle Pepi´” never left any scars… ”

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How Bunbury became

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One of Aleister Crowley´s less curious friends came by that day. If I am not mistaken it was a young Louis Umfreville Wilkinson, but maybe he came after Reading Gaol.  Memory is such a sly thing and too often it plays tricks on the old.

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Well this young gentleman approached us for help. A dismal Saturday morning it was too. His umbrella safely stowed, he enquired after a lesser strain of Alibi often called Habili due to its  popularity in Middle Eastern lands. It was to be for a certain famed individual.

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We were not unduly taken aback, it was quite normal for a friend to act as a representative or intermediary and making such an approach on behalf of a public figure. And Oscar was already enormously well known.

 

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It seemed that Mr Wilde was possessed of the need to make a trip to Sunbury to meet a scholar from Banbury, to whose poetry he had grown quite affectionate.  The meeting with the scholar, it transpired, was to be kept, be any means necessary, from the public eye.

The reason for the secrecy was not revealed.

I can´t imagine…

 

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Nothing could have been easier.  It took no time to invent an effective Habili tailor made to Oscar´s circumstances.

 

 

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We gave him details of a very elderly, very frail relative.  To this sketch, a few minutiae were added whose particulars could be checked out to the satisfaction of any keen journalist, private investigator or any such prying eyes.  And we gave this infirm relative the name Bunbury.

 

 

Bunbury was born!

 

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And so the young gentleman left satisfied that all could handled in a tidy fashion, but such was his haste that he forgot his umbrella. A sad state of affairs given the climate of this city.

 

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Oscar took the whole thing very seriously,  using the alibi on numerous occasions and even once spoiling us with an impromtu visit in persona.

 

 

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It was such meticulousness on Oscar´s part that led us to give the whole affair the codename Earnest, .  Although the alibi was subsequently used by a notable series of Uranists, it should be appreciated that Codename Earnest was infact employed by individuals of all tastes including, notoriously, a leading politician of the day.

 

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Unfortunately,  this alibi -echo gave rise to Oscar´s long standing dispute with ourselves and his subsequent reticence in consulting our archives during his appallingly misconceived libel case and mishandled trial.

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A reluctance which without doubt led to his encarcelation. Criminal!

 

 

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Still got the umbrella somewhere hereabouts.

Guide to fictional Libraries #16 A Madrid Summer Night´s Dream pt 2 Sci- Fi

Madrid, the town I have chosen  to call home for the last ten years, has a multitude of libraries that might well have fallen straight from the pages of a fantasy or science fiction novel. Despite drastic cuts carried out in the name of austerity, most of the libraries included here are open to the general public and I encourage the Madrileños to support their local with a visit.

For Sci-Fi  we should start with my local, Pedro Salinas, in Puerta de Toledo, constructed in 1992 by Juan Navarro Baldeweg, zapped out of Terry Eagleton´s discworld.

pedro-salinas-library5.1navarro-toledoLa biblioteca Ana Maria Matute in Carabanchel, by RSP architects, like some crazy glass headed dinosaur.

ana maria matuteamatutefachadaNoname aaThe Rafael Alberti Library by Andrés Perea Ortega with its magnificent Mies van der Rohe facade:

7a1 d885c2358f7119b7f830ccebb6298d2d1307964258_740215_0000000000_noticia_normalThe Gloria Fuertes public library whose cyclopian facade stares out over a bleak Barajas.

gloria fuerThe Luis Martin Santos Library in Vallecas created by architects Mario San Juan Calle, Ángel Sevillano Martín e Iván Carpintero López enjoys some fantastic reading spaces:

luis martin-santos vallecas07 descarga 02The Jose Hierro library in Usera (Ábalos y Herreros, 2002) functionally designed to act as a “catalyst” in the local community.

useraThe Mara Moliner Library by Miguel Cabanes Ginés, Elena Robles Alonso, Pedro Gambín Hurtado (2013)

Mara MolinerThe ESIC Library of Marketing Finance and Economy

esic marketing finanzas economiaRather more well known is the library of the Reina Sofia modern art gallery by Jean Nouvel.

robinson4-18-12images (4)images (3)bibliotecaLeon Tolstoi in Las Rozas seems to have simply appeared out of nowhere since no reference to its construction can be found.  An invisible architect?

leon tolstoi majadehondaOr how about the polytechnic University library, below?

politecnica-madridAnd near to the Retiro these two gems:

Casa de Fieras:

descarga (1)Biblioteca Retiro in the Calle Doctor Esquerdo:retiroRetiro 300x300These and other gems in the Community of Madrid have suffered cuts to services, budgets, opening times affecting users, collections, reading groups etc

Support your local library to avoid situations like this one (Bilblioteca Publica Joaquin Vilumbrales, Alcorcon) where local protest was necessary to restore their access to something like approaching a good library service.DSC00453

Guide to fictional Libraries #16 A Madrid Summer Night´s Dream pt 1 Fantasy

Madrid, the town I have chosen  to call home for the last ten years, has a multitude of libraries that might well have fallen straight from the pages of a fantasy or science fiction novel. Despite drastic cuts carried out in the name of austerity, most of the libraries included here are open to the general public (especially those in the Sci-fi group from the next post) and I encourage the Madrileños to support their local with a visit.

For fantasy we could start with the Athenæum on the Prado.  Founded in 1835 (for members only) it is currently threatened with bankruptcy (2013) due to the reduction in grants from Madrid city council.

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A short distance away on my street, is the no less impressive Library of the UNED (Open University), Escuelas Pias de San Fernando built out of the ruins of a religious school destroyed at the beginning of the Civil War.  As an anecdote the original school (which was free and took up to 200 kids) included the first deaf school in Spain founded in 1795.

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The Madrid regional library Joaquín Leguina was built out of the old Aguilá Brewery.  The architects  Emilio Tuñón Álvarez y Luis Moreno Mansilla converted the original 1912 -1935 structures by Eugenio Jiménez Correa and Luis Sainz de los Terreros .

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Finally in this section, the National Library, founded in 1712 and described by expert Jesús Cuadrado as “the biggest colander” in the world, able to make an endless quantity of items of popular culture disappear, be they comics, stamps, maps, manuscripts, posters, books and even a codex of Leornardo de Vinci ( – the Alibi Library would be proud!)

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Next up the sci-fi libraries of Madrid…

Guide to fictional Libraries #15 Almost Fiction: Grayling’s Prison Libraries

Voices for the Library reports that Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, plans to restrict prisoners’ access to books and prison library services as part of changes to the punishment and reward system.

39624369_97a3f4a515The move reinforces the idea of a prison system that is merely punitive rather than playing a rehabilitative role, preparing many citizens for reinsertion.

travels-of-marco-poloAccess to books and reading extends opportunities for social participation, encourages reflection and helps develop a sense of social responsibility. It expands our ability to think about alternatives and evaluate our options, which for some may lead to strategies for avoiding criminal behaviour.

images“Prisoners see themselves differently; they gain confidence and self-esteem. They talk about having hope for the future, often for the first time. They feel able to envisage a different future and develop new aspirations for themselves.” (Prisoners Education Trust 2008, p.2)

index1Furthermore where would some of our greatest literary works and writers be without access to paper, pen and reading material? To list but a few books at least partly written in while in prison:

The Travels of Marco Polo

Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes

A Hymn to the Pillory, Daniel Defoe

De Profundis, Oscar Wilde

Our Lady of Flowers, Jean Genet

Justine, Marquis de Sade

portrait-of-sir-walter-raleigh-1554-1618-title-page-from-the-historie-of-the-world-by-sir-walter-raleighThomas Malory, Richard Lovelace, Walter Rayleigh, Chidiock Tichborne, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jack London,      Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela…screen-shot-2012-06-10-at-09-39-22(Oh and Mein Kampf by a certain Adolf somebody or other, but that doesn’t really serve my point so…)

Read more about this at:

http://www.voicesforthelibrary.org.uk/2014/03/grayling-ban-on-books-oin-prison/

Guide to fictional Libraries #14 Non-fiction: Mobile libraries

I always think of the yellow county council vans of England when someone mentions Mobile Library Services.

mobile-library-in-rural-northumberland-237869600Here are a few imaginative alternatives:

BiblioburroColumbia

5c59556827c01994fc55781ebbe91671Mongolia.

451341f078cc6c5caa3041a24c6bd74fCartagena de Indias, Colombia

500dada17de63bc011f5d1b5fac2ce29Airstream Library. USA

5ae3f36d2d655d30c0274986f885530eApparently owned by Jim Hensen.

Thanks to http://www.thepolisblog.org for the wonderful post from which much of this information has been cribbed.