Tuesday, 7 January 2014

a librarians daughter

I grew up around books. In fact our little apartment was filled to the brim with books; fiction, non fiction, books about religion, history, general knowledge and art that my dad had collected over the years; his collection stemming from his love of reading and his work as a librarian. I remember Saturday afternoons spent at the library with my mum picking books to take home for that week and reading every night before I went to bed. Obviously those were the pre laptop and Ipad days. 

Even at school and university I enjoyed reading and I was one of the people who wasn't scared of the library; aisle after aisle of books as high as the ceiling can be quite overwhelming unless you know how to handle it. 

In Cyprus, the only library I know about is the one at the British Council building, and in stark contrast London is dotted with public libraries, art libraries housed within museums and, I found out recently, a newspaper library. The British Newspaper library has been located in North London for more than 80 years almost every British newspaper, whether local, regional or national, published in the last 300 years. Which means the collection stands at around 750 million pages. 

And that's not all. Under the legal deposits act, the library is also required to archive any periodical regularly published; each week around 1200 publications, from football programmes to Vogue, are added to the collection. 

The BBC recently reported on the closure of the archive in North London, with all the pages being moved to a special facility in Yorkshire, which allows for better control of conditions to maintain the life of the newspapers. Watch the short film here. I don't know about you but the volume of pages in those aisles kind of blows my mind. And I thought my dad had a lot of books! 

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