The TLS (The Times Literary Supplement) asked a selection of this year’s Hay Festival speakers to share significant memories and thoughts relating to libraries, private and public. Together, these offer a composite portrait of what libraries have been, are and might yet become . . .
When I was twelve years old my father bought part of a library at an estate sale. The books, mostly novels and plays, were leather-bound and sprayed mould-scented dust when they were opened. I felt superior to their pretentious appeal, but, by degrees, I discovered words, fresh and bright, beyond the musk. There was sarcasm that resonated with my adolescent irritability; there were tender longings that flattered my own aspirations; there were descriptions of fields and faces and feelings that provided new ways of seeing. Increasingly, today, my library nestles within my tablet, private but wonderfully accessible, multiple volumes that open with…
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