Tag Archives: The Guardian

This year I’m thankful for US public libraries – beautiful icons of a better civic era | The Guardian

The US can often be cruel to its citizens, but the public library is a sanctuary and a vision of what our country might one day be

By Moira Donegan, Wed 28 Dec 2022 10.13 EST

‘The public library does not understand its patrons as mere consumers, or as a revenue base. Instead, it aspires to encounter people as minds.’ Photograph: BA E Inc./Alamy

If you proposed it now, at any town council or city hall meeting, you would be laughed from the room. The concept is almost unthinkably indulgent, in our austere times: an institution, open for free to anyone, that sells no products, makes no money, is funded from public coffers, and is dedicated solely to the public interest, broadly defined. And it’s for books.

If the public library did not already exist as a pillar of local civic engagement in American towns and cities, there’s no way we would be able to create it. It seems like a relic of a bygone era of public optimism, a time when governments worked to value and edify their people, rather than punish and extract from them.

In America, a country that can be often cruel to its citizens, the public library is a surprising kindness. It is an institution that offers grace and sanctuary, and a vision of what our country might one day be.

Source: This year I’m thankful for US public libraries – beautiful icons of a better civic era | Moira Donegan | The Guardian

‘Our mission is crucial’: meet the warrior librarians of Ukraine | Libraries | The Guardian

When Russia invaded Ukraine, a key part of its strategy was to destroy historic libraries in order to eradicate the Ukrainians’ sense of identity. But Putin hadn’t counted on the unbreakable spirit of the country’s librarians

By Stephen Marche, Sun 4 Dec 2022 03.00 EST

Left on the shelf: Russian troops deliberately shelled this library in Chernihiv, northern Ukraine, in April 2022. Photograph: Rex/Shutterstock

The morning that Russian bombs started falling on Kyiv, Oksana Bruy woke up worried about her laptop. Bruy is president of the Ukrainian Library Association and, the night before, she hadn’t quite finished a presentation on the new plans for the Kyiv Polytechnic Library, so she had left her computer open at work. That morning, the street outside her house filled with the gunfire of Ukrainian militias executing Russian agents. Missile strikes drove her into an underground car park with her daughter, Anna, and her cat, Tom. A few days, later she crept back into the huge empty library, 15,000sqft once filled with the quiet murmurings of readers. As she grabbed her laptop, the air raid siren sounded and she rushed to her car.

Source: ‘Our mission is crucial’: meet the warrior librarians of Ukraine | Libraries | The Guardian

‘I just wanted my life to end’: the mystery of Agatha Christie’s disappearance | Biography books | The Guardian

In 1926 the world’s bestselling author vanished for 11 days. Did she really go into hiding to frame her husband for murder? Historian Lucy Worsley reopens a case still shrouded in mystery

By Lucy Worsley, Sat 27 Aug 2022 04.00 EDT

Illustration: Eleanor Shakespeare

Agatha Christie was sitting quietly on a train when she overheard a stranger saying her name. In the carriage, she said, were “two women discussing me, both with copies of my paperback editions on their knees”. They had no idea of the identity of their fellow passenger, and proceeded to discuss the most famous author in the world. “I hear,” said one of the ladies, “she drinks like a fish.”

I love this story because it sums up so much about Agatha Christie’s life. They both had her paperbacks. Of course they did. Christie wrote more than 80 books, outsold only by Shakespeare and the Bible, so the cliche runs. And she wasn’t just a novelist, either: she remains history’s most performed female playwright. She was so successful people think of her as an institution, not as a breaker of new ground. But she was both.

And then, in the railway carriage, there’s the watchful presence of Christie herself, unnoticed. Yes, she was easy to overlook, as is the case with nearly any woman past middle age. But she deliberately played on the fact that she seemed so ordinary. It was a public image she carefully crafted to conceal her real self.

Source: ‘I just wanted my life to end’: the mystery of Agatha Christie’s disappearance | Biography books | The Guardian

What do you do with books you don’t want any more? | James Colley | The Guardian

By James Colley, Sun 8 May 2022 13.30 EDT

The Long Room at Trinity College, Dublin. James Colley dreamed of a home library with ‘a ladder that glides along the impossibly high shelves filled with more books than you could read in 10 lifetimes’. Photograph: Paul McErlane/The Guardian

I used to dream of owning a home with a library like the one in Beauty and the Beast. A ladder that glides along the impossibly high shelves filled with more books than you could read in 10 lifetimes. That was before I understood that the idea that you would have one house that you were able to live in for many years (and god forbid, add shelving) would itself be a fairytale.

Packing up these books, disassembling their low-grade flatpack bookcases, hauling them across the city and interstate, and trying to reestablish this budding library time and time again has made me thoroughly fall out of love with my old dream.

I do not wish to rid myself of every book, but I no longer wish to keep every book. At some point, I crossed the line from reader to hoarder and I need to go back. These are the books that do not pass the Marie Kondo test.

These books spark no joy. If anything, the many bookmarks still stuck less than halfway through them conjure embarrassment. I know I’m never going back to finish them. They know I’m never going back to finish them. It is time to end this charade.

Source: What do you do with books you don’t want any more? | James Colley | The Guardian

Mapping fiction: the complicated relationship between authors and literary maps | Books | The Guardian

In a new exhibition, the long, difficult history of literary maps is explored, from James Joyce to Raymond Chandler

By Veronica Esposito, Wed 19 Jan 2022 07.20 EST

Map from the front endpapers of a 1935 edition of Homer’s Odyssey. Photograph: Reproduced with permission of the Licensor through PSLclear. The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens.

From efforts to map Odysseus’s journey to Borges’s commentary on map-making in On Exactitude in Science (where the only sufficient map is in fact as large as the territory it depicts), fictions and maps have long maintained a complicated, entwined relationship.

While the right map can uniquely resonate with a literary text, this resonance exists amid an undeniable tension: a concern that the map might demystify or oversimplify a story, at worst imposing a single, reductive viewpoint on something that should be open and unbounded.

A Victorian Valentine. Hindu gods, Aztec rites, Blondie hits … why the heart is our eternal symbol Read more Exploring this tension, while also charting the ways that the relationship between maps and literature has changed through eras and genres, the Huntington’s new exhibit Mapping Fiction brings together literary maps from hundreds of years of literary history. Drawing from the Huntington’s archives of rare literary texts, the exhibition goes back to the early days of modern literature with texts like The Pilgrim’s Progress and Journey to the Center of the Earth (not Jules Verne’s version but rather a 1741 book written by Norwegian writer Ludvig Holberg), continuing up to the contemporary era with mappings of Octavia Butler’s life and works and artist David Lilburn’s 2006 mapping of James Joyce’s Ulysses.

Source: Mapping fiction: the complicated relationship between authors and literary maps | Books | The Guardian

Who’s a clever dog? Scientists study secrets of canine cognition | Dogs | The Guardian

Dogs can figure out some things that even chimps can’t. Our science correspondent puts her puppy retriever to the test

By Nicola Davis, Mon 17 Jan 2022 02.00 EST

Studying the skills of dogs such as six-month-old Calisto can help shed light on which parts of communication are unique to humans. Photograph: Sarah Lee/The Guardian

It’s a cold winter’s day, and I’m standing in a room watching my dog stare fixedly at two flower pots.

I’m about to get an answer to a burning question: is my puppy a clever girl?

Dogs have been our companions for millennia, domesticated sometime between 15,000 and 30,000 years ago. And the bond endures: according to the latest figures from the Pet Food Manufacturers Association 33% of households in the UK have a dog.

But as well as fulfilling roles from Covid detection to lovable family rogue, scientists investigating how dogs think, express themselves and communicate with humans say dogs can also teach us about ourselves.

And so I am here at the dog cognition centre at the University of Portsmouth with Calisto, the flat-coated retriever, and a pocket full of frankfurter sausage to find out how.

Editor’s Note: Read more, see link below for original item…

Source: Who’s a clever dog? Scientists study secrets of canine cognition | Dogs | The Guardian