Joining The Ministry Of Truth

Saw this cartoon (thanks to Minerva Miller):

Good joke, though obviously it doesn’t bear much examination – the little girl is able to read the books ON the device. A library card is not much use as an object until you go to the library.

As before, I think it’s so wrong to view these things as competing with each other, or like mp3s versus vinyl. Better to think that when it comes to ways of accessing books, the more the merrier.

To this end, as well as being an avid Kindle user, I’ve just acquired my seventh London library card. It’s for the University of London’s Senate House, which caters for all the UOL colleges, Birkbeck included. Birkbeck’s own library is well-stocked, but I’ve already found that its limited copies of textbooks tend to get snapped up by the other students on my course if I’m not fast enough, even the reference copies. One option is to buy them, of course, but many of these doorstoppers cost upwards of £25 a time. Even if you resell them to other students when you’ve finished with them (via Amazon Marketplace, say) you still have to find the money upfront. And besides, it feels wasteful.

So I’m milking every possible library option. I’m currently a member of:

Haringey Libraries (public lending)
Islington Libraries (public lending)
Camden Libraries (public lending)
The British Library (public reference)
The London Library (private subscription, via their grant system)
Birkbeck Library (academic)
Senate House Library (academic)

Plus I’m getting a free SCONUL Access card, which lets me use a further 23 academic libraries in London.

So if I still can’t get hold of a book now, I know it won’t be for want of trying.

Getting a Senate House card has also been an ambition for years as a lover of beautiful buildings and libraries, ever since I was first shown it in the early 90s. This was while walking around Bloomsbury with Keith Girdler, the singer with Blueboy. He pointed out the way the building suddenly leered out at you with its gorgeous, Art Deco Orwellian majesty (literally Orwellian too – Senate House inspired the Ministry of Truth in 1984). He also told me it was a university library, so we couldn’t go inside.

Keith died of cancer a few years ago, not much older than me. I’d like to show him my new library card and say: thanks. Got there eventually, Keith.

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