William Skidelsky 

The Library Book, edited by Rebecca Gray – review

Stephen Fry, Zadie Smith et al contribute to this heartfelt set of essays on the importance of libraries, writes William Skidelsky
  
  

A refrain runs through this essay collection, published to support the Reading Agency's library programmes: libraries made me what I am. Val McDermid, growing up in Kirkcaldy, made a "home from home" of her local library. Stephen Fry first read Oscar Wilde thanks to the mobile library near his home in rural Norfolk. For many contributors, personal recollection mutates into anger at the current government's library-closing tendencies: Zadie Smith mounts a scathing attack on the "shameful" dismantling of public services. Yet libraries are haunted by a spectre greater than cost-cutting: the rise of the ebook. What function will libraries have when books are downloaded? In one of the few forward-looking pieces, Seth Godin imagines the library of the future being "a place where people come together and do co-working and coordinating". Is this inspiring or depressing?

 

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